[EDITORIALS]Time for a Roh-Bush meetingA meeting between President Roh Moo-hyun and his U.S. counterpart, George W. Bush, is reportedly being promoted. We believe now is the right time to have a summit meeting between the two countries, considering the current discord in the South Korea-U.S. alliance over the North Korean nuclear problem and the repositioning of U.S. forces in South Korea.
Mr. Roh and Mr. Bush met in Santiago, Chile last November and gave reassurances over the two countries’ alliance. At the time, they discussed the North Korean nuclear issue in depth and agreed that the two countries will enhance cooperation while acknowledging Seoul’s leading role in the issue.
As the issue has reached deadlock, however, dissenting voices are coming from the two countries.
While Washington suggested such possibilities as setting a nuclear talk deadline for June and imposing sanctions on Pyongyang, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon opposed any possible sanctions on the communist regime.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the United States possesses both the means and the right to send the North Korean nuclear issue to the UN Security Council or take other measures, if necessary.
We suspect that there are fundamental differences between Seoul and Washington on handling the nuclear issue. Other discordances in the alliance have increased recently, raising concern that there is a serious rift.
The South Korean government claims there is no problem in the alliance. But we believe a systemic review of the alliance is necessary, since minor friction may evolve into a large crack.
It will be very meaningful if the two leaders meet at this moment. They can reaffirm the framework and principle to solve the nuclear crisis peacefully and remove any concerns over the nuclear and USFK issues.
It is urgent to demonstrate that the alliance is healthy and sound. We believe it will also be meaningful if the two leaders look for a way to achieve reconciliation and cooperation in East Asia, as Japan’s rightist movement is causing conflicts in the region.
It is said that the two leaders are scheduled to meet around the end of September.
But considering the current situation, the earlier the meeting takes place the better.