[EDITORIALS]A significant summitPresident Roh Moo-hyun and U.S. President George W. Bush will meet in Washington on June 11. The summit will take place amid differing opinions and some conflicts between South Korea and the United States over various issues. This time, the meeting is adopting an extraordinary format in comparison to the South Korea-U.S. summits in the past by leaving aside many ceremonial protocols.
The two leaders will talk while having lunch, and there is no official schedule after the luncheon. The Blue House even considered a summit plan with no overnight stay in Washington. However, the schedule was adjusted to a one-night visit for practical reasons, such as security. This shows that this meeting is taking place due to urgent needs.
The two countries face a number of issues that require coordination at the highest level. Seoul and Washington have different opinions over North Korean nuclear issues. South Korea and the United States also need to adjust and harmonize their positions on Korea’s status and role as well as on the development and evolution of the U.S.-South Korea alliance, including the strategic flexibility of the U.S. troops in Korea and South Korea’s plan to become a balancing force in the region. These are some of the specific issues amid the changed geopolitics of Northeast Asia in the post Cold War era.
The upcoming summit is especially important because it comes after the South Korea-Russia summit and South Korea-China summit and is scheduled before the South Korea-Japan summit on June 22.
Allies do not necessarily agree 100 percent on all issues, but they can coordinate the differences through consultations and cooperation to draw up agreements to mutually benefit both sides based on the alliance. For the past half century, the two countries have done so, and the alliance has been the pillar to maintain the stability and prosperity of the Asia Pacific and Northeast Asian regions.
Taking this opportunity, the two countries should iron out their differences and coordinate their positions over important issues in order to better advance bilateral relations to the next level.
Mr. Roh and Mr. Bush’s willingness to coordinate their views and strengthen the alliance should provide the direction to resolve pending issues between the two countries and become a pillar for the future U.S.-South Korea alliance, peace of the Korean Peninsula as well as the stability of Northeast Asia.