[EDITORIALS]Roh should mull over words

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[EDITORIALS]Roh should mull over words

During his tour of Europe, President Roh Moo-hyun has made a series of remarks about how to resolve North Korea’s nuclear problems. In his latest comments, he said that he would face any adversary to keep the peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Mr. Roh, through such remarks, is sending a message of a peaceful resolution to the nuclear crisis and encouraging North Korea to return to the six-nation talks. We believe that Mr. Roh has said these things in order to prevent a war on the peninsula and at the same time, to prepare for a breakthrough in the stalled negotiations.
But his remarks have raised some concerns because some parts could cause misunderstanding among the participants of the six-party talks. Mr. Roh said the United States and other Western countries want the North Korean regime to collapse. “Such countries cannot work in unison with South Korea and China, which do not want the North to fall,” he said.
Mr. Roh, during his talks with U.S. President George W. Bush, agreed to resolve the nuclear problem within the framework of the six-nation talks. He declared that he has no intention to work for an inter-Korean summit as long as the talks are still alive.
Then, he should have shown close cooperation with Washington, Beijing and Tokyo to work on effective solutions including measures that will induce Pyeongyang to return to the talks. And yet he gave the impression that South Korea and China are on one side, with the United States on the other. That is extremely inappropriate.
He has split Washington and Beijing, both countries that will play decisive roles in resolving the nuclear crisis. Moreover, it is confusing to hear the president say openly that China is on our side, while leaving the United States, Seoul’s longtime ally, aside.
Mr. Roh also said there is no possibility that the North will collapse ― he was probably trying to please the North. He intended to say that South Korea cannot alone support a fallen North Korea. But the North may feel embarrassment and further rage. From Pyeongyang’s point of view, mentioning the word “collapse” itself seriously damages its dignity.
Presidential remarks must be made based on serious deliberation and strategic minds. A president is not an international relations scholar. He must speak on behalf of the nation. Otherwise, there is a high possibility of generating misunderstanding.
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