[EDITORIALS]Let's hope North is listeningU.S. President George W. Bush said Washington would consider a bold approach including energy and food aid to North Korea, if Pyeongyang dismantles its nuclear weapons program. The remarks hint that Washington has decided to pacify North Korea to resolve the current situation. Pyeongyang must take advantage of this softening of the hard-line U.S. stance and create an atmosphere for talks as soon as possible.
Until now, Mr. Bush has stressed that the nuclear issue would not be resolved by compensating North Korea for its past wrongdoing. Although his latest remarks came with some preconditions, he addressed the idea that Pyeongyang has been asking for. North Korea must keep that in mind. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell also suggested that the United States may provide a written guarantee of North Korean security, with the U.S. president's approval, in an effort to satisfy the North's longstanding demand for a nonaggression treaty with the United States.
If North Korea demonstrates its seriousness by dismantling its nuclear weapons program, the door to resolve a series of issues between it and the United States will be open. That is what Mr. Bush meant by a bold approach.
Establishing a multilateral consultative body has emerged as a new and important issue. In an attempt to completely contain Pyeongyang's nuclear ambition, Washington apparently seeks a multilateral approach. Mr. Powell's proposal of a completely new arrangement effectively concedes that the 1994 Agreed Framework has been nullified. North Korea apparently agrees. And yet, Pyeongyang is still arguing that the nuclear issues are bilateral matters to be dealt with by Washington. If neighbors of the Korean Peninsula jointly work on a measure to guarantee North Korea's security and a pragmatic resolution for the North's nuclear issues, Pyeongyang has nothing to lose.
North Korea must accept the newly softened attitude of Washington and enter dialogue. It should not continue its brinkmanship; it should not issue further threats. If North Korea continues to be unduly stubborn, the international community's backlash will further isolate it.