[EDITORIALS]Naivete in the South

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[EDITORIALS]Naivete in the South

The minister of unification, Jeong Se-hyun, said at a breakfast meeting Wednesday that "the supply of heavy oil to North Korea should continue till January." He made a wrong remark at a wrong time.

First of all, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization's executive board is meeting and diplomats of South Korea, the United States and Japan are coordinating their positions. Mr. Jeong's remark amounts to neglecting diplomatic etiquette to our allies. He may make the excuse that it poses no problem since Korea will take the same position at the KEDO meeting. With the position of the United States fluid, the remark may have been calculated to induce Washington to our side. But looking back on our poor record of negotiations with the United States on North Korea issues, our government does not deserve such a favorable evaluation.

Moreover, the responsibility of Mr. Jeong's remarks, which deflated the international pressure on North Korea, should be clarified. Under the principle of peaceful settlement that has repeatedly been underlined by Korea, the United States and Japan, whether the oil supply to the North should continue was one of the few effective diplomatic cards available to pressure the North, and the efficiency of pressure depends on the timing and the procedures of application. Attention has been given to the KEDO meeting because coordinated efforts among member countries will form the foundation for an effective solution to the nuclear issue. Mr. Jeong's remark is tantamount to a declaration that South Korea cannot join Washington and its allies in putting pressure on Pyeongyang.

We have repeatedly pointed out North Korea's ignorance about the outside world, which will never tolerate its nuclear program. We have also warned that it should not underestimate U.S. determination to stop the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Now the head of the government agency in charge of North Korea policy sends a message that the North can utilize the South as a shelter from international pressure. If things go on so, there are no grounds for U.S.-South Korea cooperation. The government's naive attitude will bring distrust from our al-lies and encourage the North to ask for more.

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