[EDITORIALS]Korea-U.S. ties must mature

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[EDITORIALS]Korea-U.S. ties must mature

The second term of U.S. President George W. Bush has begun. Because Mr. Bush is the president of a global superpower, the world will be under the enormous influence of his ideas and philosophy for the next four years. South Korea, an ally of the United States that faces the problems associated with North Korea, anticipates that Mr. Bush’s second term will bring about improvements on the Korean Peninsula.
In his meeting with President Roh Moo-hyun in November, Mr. Bush agreed with Mr. Roh on how to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. The two leaders agreed that the problem should be resolved peacefully and diplomatically within the framework of the six-nation talks. Before the Bush administration ends, we hope the nuclear issues will be resolved and the cloud of war will be cleared from the peninsula. We hope that North Korea will participate in the peace process.
South Korea and the United States share the position of zero tolerance to a nuclear-armed North Korea. While the South prefers to use carrots because it still sees the North as part of its own people, the United States believes that both the carrot and stick are useful. Confusion may arise in the future between Seoul and Washington on how to handle the nuclear issue. But, the half-century alliance between South Korea and the United States can overcome such differences.
Mr. Bush said in his inauguration speech that when freedom is achieved in other countries, the United States will further enjoy freedom. U.S. Secretary of State designate Condoleezza Rice has called North Korea an “outpost of tyranny.”
The United States will likely place the value of democracy and freedom as the basis for its diplomacy. That is also closely related to Washington’s plan to “transform” the North Korean regime.
Such a U.S. doctrine and North Korea’s possible reactions may escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula. We hope diplomatic principles will be applied wisely.
During the first term of the Bush administration, South Korea-U.S. relations have seen conflicts too serious to call the relationship of an alliance. South Korea’s dispatch of troops to Iraq mended the fissure significantly. During the next four years, the alliance must mature further. The United States must expand its understanding about South Koreans’ evolving attitude toward the United States.
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