[EDITORIALS]U.S. visit of premier importPresident Roh Moo-hyun makes his first trip ever to the United States next month. The visit is scheduled at a critical time. It is bound to affect the approach to the North Korean nuclear issue and affirm and further strengthen the Korea-U.S. alliance, which will in turn have a critical impact not only on our national security but also on the Korean economy. The government ought to leave no stone unturned in checking our position on these important issues; it should consult through diplomatic channels with Washington to make the respective positions of the two governments compatible.
The government needs a good understanding of U.S. President George W. Bush to formulate a strategy that would make our views heard. We must remember that Former President Kim Dae-jung was not able to narrow differences on North Korea at the summit in March 2001 with Mr. Bush, which caused more bad than good in how the two countries worked together. The government must not repeat the misjudgment and foolish mistake of thinking that we can persuade the United States on major issues despite our insufficient preparation and arrogance. What affects a diplomatic relationship just as much as detailed policy is the perception of the other country’s national leader. There are more than a few Americans who believe that Mr. Roh is not as friendly toward the United States compared with previous leaders. There must be efforts to help clear away this perception.
Mr. Roh’s visit is bound to be watched closely not only by North Korea but also by other countries in the region. South Korea must therefore produce a peaceful approach to the North Korean nuclear problem based on the foundation of a firm relationship with the United States. Discussions about affirming the two countries’ alliance and realigning the U.S. military on the Korean Peninsula must also be kept within the framework of a long-term vision for peace in the region.
Mr. Roh said during the campaign that he would not make the trip to the United States just to get a few pictures taken. The visit is being called a working visit. The president needs not be concerned that this label does not downgrade the visit, which takes place at a time of such critical importance, in any way.