[EDITORIALS]Summit idea is premature

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[EDITORIALS]Summit idea is premature

During his state visit to Britain, President Roh Moo-hyun said, “There is a very low chance that a North-South summit meeting will be held while the six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear program are in progress.” He added, “It is not wise to try too hard to finish such a task.” He has proclaimed clearly that he has no intention of promoting an inter-Korean summit while the framework of international cooperation for six-way talks is working.
In the meantime, from the government and the ruling camp there comes confusion and noise on the issue. The floor leader of the Uri Party, Lee Bu-young said, “A North-South summit must be held next year.” His remark sounded as if something was going on, but the government denied that. Then, just before Mr. Roh spoke in London, Chung Dong-young, the unification minister said, “I expect a summit will be held next year and I agree with the idea of sending a special envoy to the North.” When the ruling camp creates confusion like this, people get even more confused, and the opposition reacts with suspicion that the ruling camp is trying to use the issue politically. It is fortunate that Mr. Roh’s remark cleared up the confusion created so far. From now on, we hope, no more inappropriate words will come from the ruling camp.
A North-South summit should be held some day, because such a meeting will provide important momentum for easing tensions and settling peace on the peninsula. Because it is an important event on which the fate of the nation depends, however, we must promote it discreetly. Transparency and coordination with the six-way talk participants are important.
Mr. Roh said at the Korea-U.S. summit last month that he would settle the nuclear issue in a peaceful manner within the framework of the six-way talks. This basic structure should not be violated. A summit can be a part of the procedure leading to a solution of the nuclear problem. But without progress in the six-way talks, it could harm our cooperation with allies in the talks, especially the United States. Washington takes the nuclear issue as something on which no compromises are possible. Even if a summit is held, there might be no progress on the nuclear issue; the North could insist that it will talk only with Washington. The government must keep it in mind that a summit must be promoted when it is required in accordance with the progress in the six-way talks.
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