&#91EDITORIALS&#93Stand up to the North

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[EDITORIALS]Stand up to the North

Even as it exhorts inter-Korean dialogue, North Korea canceled the 10th inter-Korean ministerial talks, which were due to begin today. North Korea’s double-talk is not something we have not seen before. But it comes at a time when the Roh Moo-hyun administration is striving to create a favorable international environment by persuading the United States to seek a peaceful resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue.
The more serious the North Korean nuclear issue, the more the two Koreas should share a common stance toward resolving the problem by using the channels of dialogue and narrowing the gap between them. The 10th inter-Korean ministerial talks would have been highly significant, the first meeting between the new South Korean administration and the North Korean government. They would have served as a vital forum for a better understanding of the new administration’s North Korean policy, and its stance toward dealing with the issue of the North’s nuclear capability.
But Pyeongyang refused to come to the table, only two days after they had stressed the need for dialogue for cooperation between the Korean people. If North Korea objects to the military drills by South Korea and the South’s appointing of an independent counsel to look into allegations Seoul paid Pyeongyang to hold the 2000 summit, they should have come forth and put those issues on the table. But once again, they gave no reasons and abruptly canceled the talks.
If Pyeongyang sincerely desires cooperation with Seoul, they will not get anywhere with such disrespect. Their breaking of agreements forged with the South only curtails the South Korean government’s strides to make progress on North Korean issues, especially in light of the international community’s distrust of the North on the nuclear issue.
The government disappoints us. It did not even protest the North’s rudeness. Such a feeble stance will hurt the government’s attempt to win the trust and understanding of the allied nations, which are critical to a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue. Principled firmness is needed for inter-Korean relations.

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