[EDITORIALS]Giving away the store

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[EDITORIALS]Giving away the store

President Roh Moo-hyun’s remarks on North Korea that he made in Mongolia were inappropriate in many ways. His remarks lack principles in North Korea policy and could widen divisions among South Koreans. Last year, President Roh said that an inter-Korean summit meeting itself was not an ultimate goal and that it would not be good unless it helped to solve the problem of the North’s nuclear programs and advanced inter-Korean relations.
This time Mr. Roh said, “I have said dozens of times we can have talks about any subject, any time, and anywhere.” He did not mention any preconditions of solving the problem of the North’s nuclear weapons program. The president added, instead, institutional and material support under no condition, which to the North would be tempting.
The president, who has lavished unlimited support on the North every year, is now begging the North Korean leader by saying, “I will provide more assistance by all means. Let’s get together.”
He also said that if former President Kim Dae-jung paves the way for better inter-Korean relations and does something that the current government couldn’t do because of the United States and other countries, he would be able to do what he had planned.
This remark also shows the typical pattern of a lack of principles. The government has been emphasizing that the former president’s visit to the North was a “personal” one. But Mr. Roh’s remark implies that the government regards Mr. Kim as a special envoy. When many people are suspicious about the intentions behind Mr. Kim’s visit the North, the President’s remark only adds confusion.
The most shocking remark was, “I will grant many concessions to North Korea and provide institutional and material support with no conditions.” We believe that humanitarian aid to the North should be increased as much as possible. But we cannot agree with these vague remarks. What does he mean by “institutional support?” We wonder if he plans to cut South Korea-U.S. military exercises or abolish the National Security Law, as the North has long demanded.
President Roh’s remarks imply that the government will take a “different way” than the United States while pouring all its energy into an inter-Korean summit.
The government should not pursue its goals in such a vague way. That would only boost conflicts with the United States and cause confusion rather than enhance inter-Korean relations. Presidential prudence should be the name of the game.
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