[EDITORIALS]No time for nitpicking rules

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[EDITORIALS]No time for nitpicking rules

The South Korean military and the United Nations Command agreed yesterday to simplify the procedure for operating in the Demilitarized Zone. The decision will allow travel on the railroads and highways in the near future on both coasts of the peninsula, linking the two Koreas. But the two Koreas and the United States, the leader of the UN Command, must not repeat last week's war of nerves. The three sides must cooperate for the smooth operation of inter-Korean travel.

The United States insisted that under the terms of the Korean War Armistice all servicemen and civilians who cross the Military Demarcation Line must be approved by the UN Command. This principle could hinder inter-Korean rail and highway travel, including the overland tour to Mount Geumgang. The United States has permitted crossing of the border for the past 30 years with little procedure other than advance notice from South Korea; this time, the UN Command insisted on strict adherence to the armistice provisions, because the North was trying to nullify the armistice agreement. The United States yielded at last. Now the problem lies with the North. It must understand that the simplified process at the Military Demarcation Line works within the armistice framework.

The United States should learn an important lesson from this incident. Anti-American sentiment reached its peak here after the acquittal of two GIs charged with negligent homicide in the deaths of two South Korean girls. Amid the tension, General James Soligan, deputy chief of staff of the UN Command, made a remark that could violate the two Koreas' sovereignty. He reportedly said that cooperative exchanges would not be implemented smoothly unless the armistice is respected fully. The remark was intended to halt the North's attempt to void the armistice agreement, but he should have been less direct. As a senior officer of the USFK, he should have spoken with due care. The U.S. forces here must understand that anti-American sentiments have reached a serious level and act with appropriate wisdom.

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