[EDITORIALS]For productive talks

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[EDITORIALS]For productive talks

The two Koreas will sit down for a second round of economic talks in Seoul on Tuesday; the delegations from Seoul and Pyeongyang will discuss the linking of inter-Korean railroads and highways, construction plans for the Gaeseong industrial complex and Imjin River flood prevention measures. Taking into account the North's economic demands and the Kim Dae-jung administration's strong desire to support the North, the two Koreas are expected to reach important agreements at the talks, which are resuming after an 18-month lull. But we want to stress that the agreements must not be just stopgap measures to skirt the unfavorable political situations in both the Koreas.

The two Koreas must make clear at least two principles. First, any agreements must be conditional on implementation. Seoul and Pyeongyang have signed many agreements, but many of them proved, after some time, to be nothing more than pieces of papers. Thus, distrust and disappointment between the two Koreas has grown. The delegates must sign only agreements that can be put into practice.

The two sides must be frank about their own economic conditions and other internal problems. Relinking the railroads is a case in point. The South has no railroad running north of Gangneung on the east coast; it will take a considerable amount of time to build the connection. Furthermore, the South must review whether it would be more productive to build the extention of Seoul-Gangneug link via the Jungang Line that runs between Seoul and Gyeongju or to extend the Seoul-Wonsan line to connect to the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Those issues have not been discussed. The North must also come clean about its military's position on relinking the railroads. These are issues that will help the implementation of agreements if they are aired frankly.

The more visible improvements there are in inter-Korean economic cooperation, the more a peaceful, conciliatory and cooperative mood will grow on the Korean Peninsula. With these points in mind, we urge the two Koreas to draw up agreements that are feasible and mutually beneficial.

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