[EDITORIALS]More bad news than goodA meeting scheduled for next Friday in New York between North Korea and the United States to discuss U.S. financial sanctions against a Chinese bank in Macao for its involvement in counterfeit activities was called off. North Korea stated that an agreement was reached with the United States during the fifth round of six-party talks in November to have negotiations on the issue in New York. The United States, however, claims the meeting was to explain to the North Koreans that the financial sanctions were irrelevant to the six-party talks.
The United States ordered U.S. financial institutes not to engage in transactions with a bank in Macao, claiming that North Korea circulated counterfeit dollars through the bank. If what the U.S. government claims is true, then such an action is legitimate. North Korea has no right to object to financial sanctions if it engaged in circulating counterfeit dollars. This would seem to be a typical action of the North Korean government trying to gain an advantage by raising an irrelevant issue, only to withdraw it later. North Korea must first explain its position on the counterfeit charges. Moreover, financial sanctions are a matter very much apart from the context of the six-party talks, which are held to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program. Pyongyang should understand that the more they make a fuss, the more they are drawing attention to the criminal charges.
It is a matter of concern for us that the United States has taken a harder-line stance against North Korea since the adoption of a joint statement at the six-party talks. Even the U.S. chief delegate, Christopher Hill, who is seen as being for negotiations with Pyongyang, has said the United States cannot sit forever at the negotiation table. The food aid that was scheduled for North Korea has even been postponed. As the U.S. media has pointed out, many hard-liners in the United States had been vociferous in expressing their opinion that the U.S. negotiators yielded too much to North Korea in the joint statement.
It has been more than two months since the joint statement was announced, but there seems to have been more bad news than progress. There is even a possibility that the six-party talks may run aground and the North Korean nuclear problem be set adrift.
North Korea must call off its lame demand for the United States to withdraw its financial sanctions.
The U.S. government, on its part, should contemplate ways to peacefully solve the North Korean nuclear issue rather than take an overtly hard-line stance.