[EDITORIALS]A welcome exchangePresident-elect Roh Moo-hyun's meeting yesterday with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly came after some turbulence in the South Korea-U.S. alliance in recent weeks. It is opportunities like this meeting that will give insight into whatever differences in views existed between the two countries, particularly surrounding the North Korean nuclear issue, and clear up any misunderstandings. It is also a start to forging constructive agreements that would lead toward reaching mutual goals.
It is a positive move for Mr. Roh to meet with the American envoy to assure the United States on some fundamental points. He presented two underlying principles on his North Korea policy, that there could be no justification for the North to operate a nuclear program and that dialogue was the means to resolve the issue. These points do not veer far from the U.S. position. Mr. Roh also stressed the necessity of a continued presence of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula. Anti-American sentiment is a limited view held by a minority of people here, he said, adding that he would visit a U.S. base after his inauguration. This is coming from a man who has not visited the United States and, during the campaign, showed disregard for the concern that he appeared to see no problem with anti-American sentiment. Americans have no doubt been concerned about the Roh presidency, but this meeting is important in clearing up distrust.
Mr. Roh's clear expression of his views on the North Korean nuclear program and the alliance with the United States came as an indication of continued development of the relationship between the two countries. It was also rooted in the belief of the majority of the public that the relationship should improve. The United States will likely forget its concerns about anti-U.S. sentiment as it works to resolve the nuclear tension here.
If the North indicates a willingness to abandon its nuclear program, Mr. Kelly said here, the United States is willing to talk on many subjects. The mention of energy problems in the North suggests the possibility of quid pro quo. Mr. Roh should make the most of the three days that Mr. Kelly is in Seoul to keep the goodwill between the two countries.