[EDITORIALS]A low in Korea-U.S. relationsThe security consultative meeting between South Korea and the United States, at which the relocation of U.S. troops in Korea and South Korea’s plan to send additional troops to Iraq were discussed, reportedly ended without “warmth,” reflecting the current awkward state of South Korea-U.S. relations.
On the surface, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressed “appreciation” for Korea’s plan to dispatch more troops to Iraq. But some observers say the United States changed its mind on the prior working-level agreement on relocating U.S. troops in Korea because of its dissatisfaction over the troop dispatch plan. We are concerned the alliance itself may become strained over the issue.
After much deliberation, the Korean government must have notified the United States that it would send, at most, 3,000 troops for reconstruction support, as opposition mounted domestically and the situation in Iraq worsened. While the United States has maintained that a troop decision is up to each country, it also has made clear that it wanted stabilization forces. The differing calculations of both sides were revealed at the security consultative meeting. The fact that the Blue House at one point became uneasy is just another indication that the relations between the two countries are bleak.
This is not a matter of a logical link; this could become a serious breach in trust between the two allies. The United States, finding itself in a desperate situation, has asked for help. And yet South Korea has shown a lukewarm reaction. Allies may differ on certain issues but it is common sense that showing effort, when asked, results in that much reward.
The South Korean government should exert more care in the future to realize the spirit contained in the joint statement, which reads “South Korea’s additional troop dispatch to Iraq will strengthen the alliance between the two countries.” Lest there be a serious problem in smooth cooperation and a common stance on the U.S. troop relocation in Korea and the North Korean nuclear issue, the government should work out special measures.