[EDITORIALS]Rosy picture is incompleteThe result of the Korea-U.S. meeting over North Korea’s nuclear program has received varying evaluations. Our government said it was a valuable meeting because the leaders reached an agreement on their opinions of the North Korean nuclear program. However, the U.S. government seems to think differently. Certain experts are even claiming that the meeting was meaningless, with no new developments. The Korean government should explain why there are such different views of the meeting.
This meeting was the first between the presidents of the two countries since George W. Bush was re-elected. Much attention was focused on the meeting, as certain remarks made by President Roh Moo-hyun in a visit to Los Angeles had left the impression that there was a great discrepancy in the North Korea policies of the two governments.
The meeting was partially successful in that it provided a large framework of cooperation. It smoothed over concerns of the possibility of a pre-emptive strike by the United States on North Korea and concluded that the nuclear issues should be solved in a peaceful, diplomatic way within the six-party talks. Although this is not a new development, it was significant that this principle was reaffirmed amid speculation that the second Bush administration might opt for more hard-line policies toward Pyeongyang.
However, it is difficult to say that the two governments are in complete accord over North Korea. Neither party has provided a concrete and comprehensive blueprint for solving the situation. The meeting only emphasized that the situation must be solved peacefully and that South Korea should have a leading role.
It should be noted that President Bush reportedly asked the leaders of South Korea, China and Japan to take a common stance supporting the abolition of North Korea’s nuclear program. If this is an indication that the United States is watering down its aggressive stance in some way, it would be most welcome. However, if this “common stance” refers to backing for U.S. initiatives, then it could only lead to a strain in the relationship between Seoul and Washington.
The South Korean government should not cling only to its optimistic reading of the meeting but redouble its efforts to reinforce cooperation with Washington and other related governments.