[EDITORIALS]A summit isn’t everything

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[EDITORIALS]A summit isn’t everything

Uri Party chairman Lee Bu-young has said that an inter-Korean summit must take place next year, and that the party and the Blue House have agreed on it. He has made such remarks several times before, but the government has been denying such a possibility.
But more and more people speculate that the two Koreas have been engaged in behind-the-scene negotiations to hold another summit. President Roh Moo-hyun, ministers and core members of the governing party are repeatedly making remarks that they “understand” the North’s position.
If a summit can play a decisive role in reducing tensions between the two Koreas, we welcome it. But it is a serious problem if the government is trying to please the North only to hold the summit.
We hope that this is not the reason why Mr. Roh said there is some validity in the North’s argument that it was developing nuclear weapons for self-defense purpose. We also hope this isn’t the reason why the unification and defense ministers said we should stop calling North Korea the South’s main enemy.
Strategically, we do not know what the North is thinking. If we continue to press a summit with the North, what will Pyeongyang think? The North will continue to raise its demands, while ignoring our claims in return. That is the basic rule of negotiation, and how can the government not realize this?
The nuclear crisis has surfaced as a core task of the Bush administration in its second term. And yet, Seoul appears to hold on to the hope of another summit without knowing what it will gain from it. The government must know that clinging to a summit may bring about unnecessary misunderstanding.
Inter-Korean matters, particularly an event of importance such as a summit, must be carried out transparently and in a bipartisan manner. The first inter-Korean summit, between Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung, brought about serious repercussion in our society. Some are now saying that the Roh administration is obsessed with a summit because it has no other ways to manage the chaotic domestic affairs. The government must be careful to avoid being misunderstood like that.
Splits between classes and generations have deepened, and the economy is getting worse. These matters should be the government’s top priorities. An inter-Korean summit can be approached realistically after the two Koreas make clear their goals.
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