[EDITORIALS]Roh has bridges to buildPresident Roh Moo-hyun leaves tomorrow for the United States for a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush. How Mr. Roh and Mr. Bush handle policy on North Korea’s nuclear issue will provide a compass for resolving this issue. It will also affect South Korea-U.S. relations.
By no means will this be an easy visit for Mr. Roh, who must address the substantive issues of redefining the military alliance between the two countries, including the repositioning of U.S. forces stationed here. He also has to gain back the trust of foreign investors in the Korean economy.
Indeed, President Roh heads to the United States, his first-ever visit there, with a lot on his shoulders. He has said that he will not be ambitious with the U.S. visit and has vowed to “do my best to solidify trust with President Bush.” Relations between the two countries have been rocky since the Kim Dae-jung administration. The accidental deaths of two teenage South Korean girls last year who were crushed by a U.S. military vehicle exacerbated relations to the point that the United States has put forth the idea of repositioning its troops to south of the Han River. And President Roh’s outspoken views on the United States did not help much.
Against such a backdrop, we believe Mr. Roh’s pledge to work to form trust with Mr. Bush is right on target. America is a vital ally with whom we share vital interests. We would like to recommend to President Roh that he seek ways to narrow the differences between Seoul and Washington toward North Korea by determining the reason Washington harbors discontent and skepticism toward Seoul’s policies.
That is Mr. Roh’s primary task, and without its realization the two leaders will not advance much on trust-building or a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. President Roh should understand that, in the eyes of the United States, North Korea is a rogue state with the means to promote terrorism, and pursue a joint response to that. If they establish trust, they will clear the uncertainty on the Korean Peninsula and reduce North Korea’s usage of hardline measures.