[EDITORIALS]Seoul's diplomacy quickens

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[EDITORIALS]Seoul's diplomacy quickens

The government's multi-pronged diplomacy in response to the North Korean nuclear issue is picking up pace and intensity. Seoul has sent senior envoys to Beijing and Moscow. It will dispatch the Blue House national-security aide, Yim Sung-joon, to Washington and Tokyo this week. South Korea, Japan and the United States will meet for high-level security consultations in Washington today.

It is time for the government to mold a practical solution that involves countries affected by the issue. On a theoretical level, the beginning of the resolution lies in turning back the clock to the point right after the 1994 Agreed Framework signed by Pyeongyang and Washington that resolved a similar crisis a decade ago and resuming the fuel-oil supply suspended in November largely by the United States. A logical step would be to find a way to guarantee the sovereignty and security that the North is so insistent upon, either through dialogue between Pyeongyang and Washington or through a multinational channel. For its part, the North must take steps to refreeze its nuclear program in accordance with the 1994 agreement. It must also dismantle the enriched-uranium nuclear program, either before or simultaneously with the sovereignty guarantee.

The government's objective should be to create a mood for both Washington and Pyeongyang to come to dialogue without losing face. Considering Washington's rejection of any dialogue with Pyeongyang after it admitted in October having maintained a nuclear program, Seoul should try to mold a solution within a multinational framework that includes Beijing and Moscow. Possible alternatives are resuming attempts to open four-party talks among the two Koreas, the United States and China, and expanding the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization that supplies civilian energy aid to the North under the 1994 agreement. The expansion of KEDO with participation by Russia and China and an enlarged role for the South is an option worth considering. Seoul is beginning to show some vitality on the North Korean nuclear issue. We would like to see creative efforts in full-fledged diplomacy to resolve the issue.
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