[EDITORIALS]China still has a role to playWashington and Pyeongyang have long engaged in a tug-of-war, refusing to sit at a negotiating table amid a sharp confrontation over whether the North should dismantle its nuclear arms programs first or whether the United States should first guarantee the North Korean regime’s security. Perhaps suggesting a breakthrough, the two sides have moved toward a dialogue, accepting China’s mediation.
“I do believe we can solve this issue diplomatically,” U.S. President George W. Bush said Monday, referring to the nuclear problem. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said three-way talks were possible within a few weeks. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has said he was optimistic about the talks, and South Korea’s national security adviser, Ra Jong-yil, said the arrangements for multilateral talks were at the fine-tuning stage.
Such talk came after Beijing’s special envoy, Dai Bangguo, toured Russia, North Korea and the United States. The remarks clearly heightened anticipation of a peaceful resolution of the crisis on the peninsula.
We therefore highly praise China’s diplomatic mediation. Beijing’s role, however, has not ended at inducing Washington and Pyeongyang to the negotiating table. China must continue its role so that the talks conclude successfully.
The nuclear situation has rapidly worsened since October, and China is partly responsible for that. The country is not only North Korea’s substantial supporter but also a regional leader determining Asia’s order. It is China’s responsibility in this era to use its power of mediation to resolve the regional crisis peacefully.
Pyeongyang and Washington must keep in mind the possibility of a peaceful resolution and enter negotiations as soon as possible. North Korea must make clear its intention to irreversibly scrap its nuclear development. The North’s security will be guaranteed by giving up nuclear weapons, not having them. Washington should also create an environment for Pyeongyang to come to the negotiating table, rather than pushing for an unconditional capitulation.