[EDITORIALS]Reaffirming the allianceThe chief diplomatic problems facing South Korea and the United States were discussed thoroughly during a meeting of the countries’ leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. A joint statement released after the summit is meaningful in that it carries a common understanding about pending questions. It is seen as an advance notice of a breakthrough on the North Korean nuclear problem, with U.S. President George W. Bush officially mentioning security guarantee measures, which are expected to wipe out North Korea’s worries over security, the core of the controversy.
It can be seen as a positive reaction from the U.S. side that Mr. Bush himself commented that he would give careful consideration to the relocation of U.S. forces, considering the security conditions of the Korean Peninsula. It is also encouraging that the president verified that there was no decision regarding the reduction of U.S. forces in Korea.
Such a cooperative atmosphere between South Korea and the United States should serve as a starting point for new mutual assistance in the half-century-old history of the alliance. The relationship between the two countries has recently had many perplexing twists, which has made people uneasy. But South Korea’s decision last week to send additional troops to Iraq can be seen as underlying the turnaround to the positive side. The essence of the alliance is an attitude to help each other when in need. The two countries, therefore, must apply this change to the North Korean nuclear problem.
In fact, the Bush administration has repeatedly said it has no intention to attack North Korea. But people inside and outside the Korean government have asked for more progressive policies toward North Korea. The U.S. administration now has said that it would consider security guarantee measures for North Korea within its legal and systemic boundaries. It also is an opportunity to confirm that, when cooperation between South Korea and the United States stands firm, practical measures to settle the North Korean nuclear problem and stop North Korea’s misjudgement can be possible.