&#91EDITORIALS&#93Hopeful sign for diplomacy

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[EDITORIALS]Hopeful sign for diplomacy

The trilateral consultations on how to handle North Korea's nuclear aspirations ended fruitfully in concluding that Washington would talk to Pyeongyang. After North Korea admitted in October to having continued its nuclear weapons program in violation of past promises, the situation has worsened day by day, but the talks have created a climate in which Washington and Pyeongyang could sit down to talk. Since North Korea has stressed its willingness to resolve the current crisis through talks, Washington and Pyeongyang have finally found a common point.

The fundamentals of the U.S. stance toward the North's nuclear ambition remained unchanged. Washington still believes that North Korea must dismantle its nuclear weapons programs, and it will not reward Pyeongyang for doing so. This time, the United States softened its harsh attitude by offering a proposal for unconditional talks. U.S. President George W. Bush has repeatedly assured the North that he has no intention of invading it, stressing the need to resolve the problem by diplomacy. The frequent remarks presaged the outcome of the trilateral consultation. Washington's policy to handle Iraq first also played a role.

Washington accepted Seoul's stance for a peaceful resolution while taking into account China and Russia, the two countries from which the United States must get help to persuade North Korea. A transition is taking place in the South Korean government, and both the incoming and outgoing administrations are trying to take the initiative by emphasizing an engagement policy toward the North. Washington cannot ignore that ?it must have seriously considered who would have to help in pressing the North.

Pyeongyang must begin talks with Washington immediately. Entering a dialogue would also satisfy South Korea and other neighbors who worked for a diplomatic resolution. The North may want negotiations with the United States, not just talks, but a dialogue can lead to negotiations. Pyeongyang must respond.

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