&#91EDITORIALS&#93Hope from Washington

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[EDITORIALS]Hope from Washington

Richard Lugar, a high-ranking U.S. senator, said Thursday that it would be difficult for Congress to ratify a nonaggression treaty with any foreign country, but if President George W. Bush indicated that such a move is very important for U.S. national interest, "you'd be surprised how much support might occur."

Senator Jay Rockefeller said he would "never rule out the possibility" that such a resolution could be passed by the Senate.

Mr. Lugar, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Mr. Rockefeller, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, made their comments at a policy conference in Washington, sponsored by the JoongAng Ilbo and the Washington Post.

The conference highlighted the importance of U.S.-Korean relations to the world and provided a framework for a breakthrough in the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz joined the lawmakers in expressing an evolving view by the United States on the issue.

Considering the repeated assurances by senior Washington officials that the United States has no intention to invade North Korea, the statements by the congressional leaders represent a stance that could lead to a breakthrough. We urge the governments of South Korea and the United States to consider their position conscientiously so that it can be developed into a viable alternative. North Korea must also give it some serious thought.

Pyeongyang should reconsider its hard-line position for its people's sake. Mr. Wolfowitz recalled that two million refugees from Vietnam were given shelter in foreign lands, and the Hanoi government did not collapse. The world, he suggested, stood ready to help North Korean refugees. The North must not miss this opportunity to seek dialogue and compromise, rather than continuing its brinkmanship.

The conference set a positive tone on how journalism can serve its social obligations and contribute to national interests. It was also timely for establishing a tone for the new government that is about to take power in Korea, which could help narrow differences between the two allies and expand understanding.

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