[EDITORIALS]The North should face realityKim Jong-il, chairman of North Korea’s National Defense Commission, returned to Pyeongyang yesterday, ending his four-day unofficial visit to China. Although there was no press conference, the official Xinhua News Agency reported that the two leaders announced their intention “to continue with the six-nation talks to defuse North Korea’s nuclear problem peacefully.”
The summit between Chinese President Hu Jintao, the fourth generation leader who is known as a pragmatist, and Kim Jong-il, the leader of the reclusive and isolated “hermit kingdom,” was their first meeting ever.
During Mr. Kim’s visit, the focus was on whether the summit would be dominated by ideological principles or be a pragmatic one that would lead them to respond practically to the altered international environment after the Cold War and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Although it does not mean a breakthrough in the North Korean nuclear problem, the Xinhua report was meaningful in that the leaders proclaimed their will to resolve the issue through peaceful and diplomatic means and pledged to continue their dialogue and cooperation.
We hope that Mr. Kim’s words are not mere rhetoric, but will be reflected in his deeds. Mr. Kim and the North Korean leadership must keep in mind that the principle that a “proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in whatever form should not be allowed” is firmly established in the international community. China should also remember that the peaceful solution of the nuclear issue is the duty of the regional power.
North Korea must face up to the reality that Iran and Libya, after giving up their nuclear programs and deciding to cooperate with the international community, have begun to receive benefits, such as economic aid and an end to trade embargoes, while Iraq is ruined. The guarantee of the regime’s security and economic aid that the North wants will be possible if it gives up its nuclear program.
The faster the North makes such a decision, the more beneficial it will be for both North Korean residents and the international community. We expect that Mr. Kim’s China visit will serve as a prelude to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.