[EDITORIALS]A healthy allianceThe recent South Korea-U.S. summit meeting in Washington can be termed a success, as it has calmed fears that there is friction in the South Korea-U.S. alliance and that there are differences in the approach to the North Korean nuclear crisis. Both leaders repeatedly asserted that the alliance is healthy, and made clear that they are of “one voice” in opting for a peaceful solution of the North Korean nuclear issue. There were worries that due to differences between hard-line U.S. officials and South Korean officials seeking to embrace the North, the summit might not proceed smoothly. Now a framework has been established, upon which the South Korea-U.S. alliance needs to be strengthened.
When North Korea announced in February that it had nuclear weapons, the six-party talks went further into the abyss and inter-Korean relations cooled off, giving birth to a “June crisis” theory. Hard-line U.S. officials alluded in public to military action, friction appeared in the alliance and the people’s sense of insecurity increased. It’s a relief that the summit has cleared up such uneasiness, to a certain extent.
President Roh Moo-hyun said, “There are one or two minor issues on which Seoul and Washington had differences, but I don’t think they will become a big problem. I believe if talks continue based on an alliance with key values such as freedom and democracy, they can be solved without a big problem.”
What is left is the North Korean nuclear issue. For stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula, and for the future of the Korean race, this problem needs to be resolved quickly. President Bush referred to the North’s leader Kim Jong-il Friday by the title “Mr.,” and not as a “tyrant” or dictator.” He reaffirmed that the United States has no intention of attacking the North. He also hinted that in the end, normal relations between Washington and North Korea are possible, indicating a willingness to resolve the issue peacefully.
North Korea cannot let such an opportunity pass. It needs to return to the six-party talks immediately and build a cornerstone upon which the nuclear crisis can be peacefully solved, and the mistrust of the international community dispelled. North Korean leaders need to know that if they do not take this chance, it will be hard for South Korea to resist the international demands for the imposition of sanctions, because it will have no more justification for doing so.