[EDITORIALS]North can benefit from talksWith the conclusion of the inter-Korean ministerial talks yesterday, both Koreas agreed to hold military discussion. This agreement came about after North Korea retreated from its insistence that U.S.-South Korea joint military drills be suspended before defense talks could be discussed. The talks nearly broke down over this issue.
We would like to commend that both sides continued to negotiate till the last minute to draw up an agreement. But overall, the negotiating attitude shown by North Korea is nothing short of a disappointment.
Originally, the defense talks were already agreed upon by both parties in February’s 13th inter-Korean ministerial talks. But the North didn’t respond after that, and then during the recent discussions, unexpectedly brought up its demand that the South end U.S.-South Korea joint military drills.
If inter-Korea relations are to progress, both sides must stick to the principle of implementing already-agreed upon points. In this way, trust would be built, and the results would be beneficial to both sides.
Now that the North agreed on the talks once again, it should not repeat the postponing tactic. It must realize that we are not desperate to hold this event. We propose defense-level talks out of our belief that peace in the Korean Peninsula will be solidified if military tensions can be mitigated.
North Korea knows well that tensions must be relieved in order for North-South economic cooperation to flourish. In light of these circumstances, there is no reason for North Korea to avoid the defense talks. Above all, they serve as a way to prevent tragic incidents such as the naval clash in the Yellow Sea in 2002. If such an accidental confrontation occurs again, there is no denying that there would be a sharp decrease in inter-Korean economic cooperation and North-South relations would take a step back.
Therefore, we urge North Korea to come to the defense talks realizing that it is beneficial for it to seek military measures that will prevent an accidental collision. At the same time, they must remember that the South’s willingness to maintain the Northern Limit Line is firm, and we point out beforehand that the North must not use the line as the means of starting a conflict.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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