[EDITORIALS]Roh’s huge opportunityProminent political figures from the United States, Japan, China, Russia and the European Union reportedly will flock to Seoul to attend the presidential inauguration of Roh Moo-hyun, which is slated for Feb. 25.
Unlike emissaries of past, people deployed out of diplomatic courtesy, many are in the position of deciding their nation’s foreign policy, such as Japan’s prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, the chairman of the Russian Federation Council, Sergei Mironov, and China’s vice premier, Qian Qichen.
The dispatch of big names to Korea reflects the progress that our nation has made in the international community. But a more practical conclusion is that escalating tension over the North Korean nuclear program and the uncertainly in North East Asia have become critical issues in the international community.
Mr. Roh, therefore, must be reminded that the meetings with the foreign emissaries are not a simple protocol, but will be a diplomatic opportunity, where he can coordinate, persuade and exchange views on the North Korean nuclear issue.
We need to make clear our position is to resolve the standoff in cooperation with our allies. North Korea views its nuclear program as a bilateral issue between Washington and Pyeongyang and has objected to the involvement of its neighbors or the United Nations. But this issue is directly related to the security of nations in the region. Therefore, we must use this opportunity to formulate a wider framework of multilateral cooperation to come up with a solution.
Mr. Powell plans not only to visit Korea but also Japan and China. His Seoul meeting could lead to a breakthrough on North Korea’s nuclear program. Mr. Roh must demonstrate efforts to mend the rupture created by differences over the approach to North Korea and U.S. forces in the peninsula.
For Korea to maintain prosperity and peace, good relations with not just the United States but also China and Japan are imperative. The stage is set for the debut of Mr. Roh’s foreign diplomacy.