[EDITORIALS]Mr. Roh in WashingtonA summit meeting between South Korea and the United States will take place on Sept. 14. This is the sixth meeting of its kind since this administration came to power. It’s a place where the subjects such as the transfer of wartime control and a free trade agreement, which are issues that will have a great impact on our future security and economy, will be discussed.
First, this meeting needs to become a venue where the concerns about Seoul’s independent wartime control can be resolved. Until now, this administration has argued that even with a transfer of wartime control to Seoul, there would be no problems with security. The reason for this argument was that the U.S. military presence here would be maintained, and that in areas where South Korean forces’ capabilities are judged to be lacking, such as intelligence-gathering, the United States would aid Seoul while a deployment of U.S. troops to the South in case of a war would still take place. Nevertheless, those opposing the move say they believe such arrangements would be nullified when the Combined Forces Command is dissolved as a result of the transfer of the wartime command. Thus, President Roh must clarify the issue for people to understand it and put an end to this all-consuming debate.
An agreement on the free trade talks that pushes a step forward and is clear also must come from the summit. There is especially a need to state clearly the need for and logic behind a free trade agreement in order to erase unnecessary misunderstandings and opposition.
At the meeting, it needs to be made clear that a free trade agreement is not the result of a U.S. request, but serves to increase the two countries’ national interests and that it is a choice Korea has made in a bid to strengthen the Korea-U.S. alliance in real terms. Only then can opponents be convinced and the negotiations given a boost.
It is very clear that the ROK-U.S. alliance has served as a cornerstone of our security and economic development for the past half century. Considering the geopolitical situation of our country, surrounded by Japan, China and Russia, the U.S. alliance needs to be nurtured. Security is a crucial element of a nation: Once there is a flaw in it, it’s too late for regrets.
Security is an issue that cannot be arbitrarily handled by one administration. President Roh needs to keep these points in mind and use his best judgment to respond calmly to those matters while considering the national interest.