[OUTLOOK]Points for U.S.-Korea summit

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[OUTLOOK]Points for U.S.-Korea summit

The third summit meeting between President Roh Moo-hyun and U.S. President George W. Bush will be held just 10 days from now. The United States is known to have proposed the meeting in the beginning, but since then, Korea appears to have been more enthusiastic about the idea.
Frankly, we need a Korea-U.S. summit meeting at this point. Of course, there are risks on our part if things go wrong, but keeping silent on pending issues between Korea and the United States is not the way to go. In the end, the president, who has to ultimately take the responsibility for the nation’s security, has to explain Korea’s position on national security and at the same time must receive a clear explanation from the U.S. president about his country’s position.
At their first summit meeting in Washington, D.C., in May 2003, President Roh and President Bush agreed on the principle that Korea and the United States would further strengthen a cooperative relationship. In October of the same year, the two leaders held a second summit meeting in Bangkok when both leaders were there for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, and they exchanged views on issues such as North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons and restructuring the U.S. Forces in Korea.
At the summit meeting that will be held in Washington soon, the North Korea problem and the future of the Korea-U.S. alliance appear to be the main topics of discussion.
The North Korean nuclear problem is at its worst right now. North Korea’s refusal to participate in the six-way talks is problematic, but what is even worse is that the gap between Korea and the United States is widening. As long as Korea and the United States do not have the same views and positions on the issue, North Korea sees no need to give up its nuclear weapons.
For this reason, no matter what, both South Korea and the United States have to agree on a common position regarding the North Korean nuclear problem at the summit meeting.
The problem is, however, that there is still an impression that even within the U.S. government there is disagreement on how to solve the North Korean nuclear problem. The U.S. government says that it wants a peaceful solution, but there is still a great discrepancy between what the United States is demanding from North Korea and what it is promising to do for the North. The truth is that the South Korean government is disappointed at Washington’s seeming inability to reconcile the internal contradictions.
It is also true that the United States is greatly disappointed at South Korea’s appeasement policy toward North Korea, under which the South refuses to consider any other possibilities except reconciliation with its Northern brothers.
I hope that both sides will be able to overcome such conflicts at the next Korea-U.S. summit meeting. It will not be easy, of course. If North Korea insists on refusing to give up its nuclear weapons, we don’t have many options.
If we truly want to solve this problem through negotiations, however, we must be determined to give enough encouragement to North Korea so that it will be convinced that it will not suffer losses. If the North rejects a compromise despite such efforts, we also have to let North Korea know that South Korea and the United States will have no choice but to consider ways to force a change in the North’s attitude.
At the summit meeting, I hope that the two countries will be able to clear up all misunderstandings and conflicts that could have been created during the course of negotiations on the future of the Korea-U.S. alliance.
It will probably be helpful to keep in mind that frank negotiations on the future of an alliance can worsen the present situation by provoking abstract discussions about the future and assuming problems that do not even exist in an attempt to create unnecessary rules. Those who try too hard to clarify all possible situations have an immature attitude that does not understand the truly coincidental and complex nature of history.
The relationship between Korea and the United States will, as it did in the past, continue to ride the unpredictable waves of history and will create a new world, one that we cannot imagine now.
When the Korea-U.S. alliance was born 50 years ago, nobody imagined that Korea would grow and develop so remarkably within the framework of the alliance. Likewise, nobody can foretell the potential the current Korea-U.S. alliance will have 50 years from now.

* The writer, a former ambassador to the United States, is an adviser at Kim & Chang law firm. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Kim Kyung-won
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