[EDITORIALS]Agenda for the 6-way talksWith North Korea and the United States having agreed on six-party dialogue on the North’s nuclear program, a break in the deadlock is expected. Although there should be further discussions of a detailed schedule for the talks, it is clear that the North Korean nuclear problem has passed the crisis point and taken the road to negotiated settlement.
In practice, this is the last chance to peacefully settle the crisis created by North Korea. The countries concerned, including South Korea, should utilize this opportunity fully so that the nuclear threat is completely and irrevocably dissolved and that a new international structure for peace and prosperity is established in Northeast Asia.
The format of six-party talks is based on the traditional balance between the northern alliance of North Korea, China and Russia, and the southern alliance of South Korea, the United States and Japan. It is not an easy format for South Korea, which has no experience playing a leadership role in a multilateral negotiation. South Korea must be prepared with a careful strategy, the patience not to jump after short-term results and a solid vision which Seoul can sell to other participants. Otherwise, the talks may drift tediously as East-West negotiations did during the Cold War, and the fate of the Korean Peninsula may be decided by outside powers. The government must prepare with strategic thinking, long-term as well as short-term strategies and firm determination.
For that, cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan must be strengthened. Through clear, simultaneous cooperation, consultations and agreements among the three, it should be demonstrated that the framework of cooperation is not only for the past but also for the future development and prosperity of the region. At the same time, Seoul must negotiate with China and Russia so that they can make judgments based on reality and pragmatic reasons instead of simply siding with their old ally, North Korea. The talks should include missiles and chemical as well as nuclear weapons, and they must be used as an opportunity to ease tension and establish peace on the peninsula.