[EDITORIALS]Building the peace

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[EDITORIALS]Building the peace

The White House spokesman said that if North Korea gives up its nuclear development program, the United States will declare an end to the Korean War and implement a series of measures, such as economic cooperation and forging ties in culture and education. By this, the United States promised to provide incentives if North Korea scraps its nuclear weapons. That is a detailed explanation of U.S. President Bush’s remarks at the summit meeting between the United States and Korea, where he said, “Let’s change a truce into a peace treaty.” The spokesman’s remark draws attention because it was made with the six-party talks coming near. The United States seems to have spoken in an attempt to bring North Korea back to the six-party talks. They also clarify the U.S. intent to resolve the North Korea issue peacefully when some have suspected that the United States has been pursuing a policy to make North Korea collapse. In a broader sense, by that remark, the United States declared that it has set to building a lasting peace system on the Korean Peninsula, along with resolving the North’s nuclear issue, as an ultimate goal of the six-party talks.
Those points were included in last year’s joint statement by the six-party talks. The United States has now emphasized its intent to implement faithfully the joint statement. Since the 1970s, North Korea has asked the United States to build a peace system on the Korean Peninsula. In answering that request, U.S. President George W. Bush urged North Korea, which has conducted a nuclear test, to abandon its nuclear weapons. Now it is the North’s turn to say if it has the intent to give up its nuclear devices.
South Korea will be put in a dilemma while a peace treaty is being debated between the United States and North Korea. North Korea has maintained that it has to sign the peace treaty with the United States because those two countries signed the truce. Pyongyang’s ultimate aim is the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Korea.
But South Korea has argued that it and North Korea should be the main parties in building a peace system because the military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula is an issue between South and North Korea, not between North Korea and the United States. That is a natural thing to say.
We also expect that the South Korea-U.S. alliance based on the U.S. troops in Korea will still act as a balancer in the Northeast Asia region, where China, Russia and Japan compete with one another.
There are no reasons for us to oppose a way to build peace on the Korean Peninsula in connection with ending the North’s nuclear programs. But we should think seriously about how to preserve our national interests when a debate on establishing the peace system on the Korean Peninsula accelerates. We should never forget that a peace system should be built at the same pace as peace itself is being established on the peninsula. In the six-party talks, the government should remember that our country is directly involved and maintain that attitude.
Point 4 of the joint statement of the Sept. 19, 2005, six-party talks says, “The directly related parties will negotiate a permanent peace regime on the Korean peninsula at an appropriate separate forum.” In the six-party talks, we are a directly related party. The problem is that North Korea might exclude us. To stand against such a claim, we should have close relations with the United States.
South Korea and the United States have built close relations for the past 50 years in politics and economy on the foundation of their alliance. But for the past few years, South Korea-U.S. relations have not been as they were before. U.S. government officials and ordinary Americans say, “If you don’t like the alliance, you are free to go at any time.” We should make efforts to change this cynical atmosphere when we are given the great challenge of transforming to a peace system. We should understand the importance of the South Korea-U.S. alliance to prepare for a debate on building a peace system on the Korean Peninsula.
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