[EDITORIALS]How to talk with the U.S.A summit meeting between President Roh Moo-hyun and U.S. President George W. Bush is to be held in Washington tomorrow. The importance of this summit meeting cannot be overstated. We hope that President Roh handles the issues with wisdom and prudence and that positive outcomes result.
Most of all, in regard to wartime operational command of Korea’s troops, Mr. Roh should not agree on a timetable for the transfer of command. Opponents of Korea’s exclusive exercise of wartime control have raised many problems, such as whether the United States will support South Korea as before in an emergency. The most urgent issue is the time for the transfer of wartime control. To decide the time for South Korea to regain wartime control will severely damage our national security and economy when North Korea’s threats of nuclear weapons and missiles exist and our economy is in trouble. According to polls, more than half of South Koreans, up to 70 percent of them, oppose the transfer of wartime command. Korea’s exclusive exercise of wartime operational command should be related to the process of resolving the issue of the North’s nuclear ambitions.
In regard to a free trade agreement with the United States, Mr. Roh should make it clear that the pact is needed. He should display his determination and willpower to pursue the trade accord, despite opposition inside the country. But still, he should be able to make demands of the United States, if need be.
Current relations between the two countries are worsening, instead of improving. Since North Korea fired its missiles on July 5, Washington has favored the idea of placing sanctions against North Korea, according to the United Nations resolution. But South Korea is hesitant about the move, although it is a UN member state. President Roh even said the North’s missile launches were political maneuvering, provoking Washington. As a result, South Korea and the United States have taken separate paths on the issue of sanctions against North Korea.
It helps neither of the two countries for their ties to worsen. The results of this summit could decide whether we get out of this chaos or we will be thrown into even more serious turmoil. Thus, the president should not make misjudgments based on his ideology or convictions, because he does not own the country.
The United States has reacted to the South Korean government emotionally, suggesting a transfer of wartime control ahead of Korea’s plan. To take this stance is unfair when Washington says its alliance with Seoul is important. We also hope that President Bush will participate in the summit talk keeping these points in his mind.