No urgency for summitAfter his visit to North Korea, Lee Hae-chan, the former prime minister, said a summit meeting between the two Koreas could be looked at for April, if the agreement reached in the six-party talks in February is smoothly implemented. Before his visit, he said a summit meeting was not on the agenda. A lawmaker who accompanied Mr. Lee even said a mutual understanding had been created about the summit meeting. The government tries to separate itself from Mr. Lee’s remarks, but it seems to be trying to provide as much aid to the North as possible. The government denies it, but appears to be doing its best to make a summit meeting take place.
It is good to ease tension through meetings between South and North Korea. In particular, we welcome a summit meeting because it could be a decisive moment in ending hostility between the two Koreas. However, such a meeting must be pursued with prudence. Otherwise, it could have a bad influence on national security and the economy.
The ruling camp has its reasons to have a summit meeting. The foundation for the resolution of North Korea’s nuclear issue has been prepared, and ties between Washington and Pyongyang are rapidly improving. Of course, the February agreement under which North Korea will receive fuel in return for freezing its nuclear facilities is meaningful because it eased tension on the Korean Peninsula. The first round of negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang for normalization of ties also achieved some good results.
However, there are many obstacles and difficulties before North Korea’s nuclear issue is fully resolved and relations between the United States and North Korea become stable. The first-step measures under the February agreement, whose deadline is April, are merely to freeze North Korea’s nuclear facilities and provide it with 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil. There are no deadlines for disabling the facilities and the highly enriched uranium program. As for that program, the United States and North Korea have different opinions. The situation can change abruptly at any time.
But the ruling party is behaving as if North Korea’s nuclear issue will be fully resolved if only first-step actions are implemented. That’s why some say the party has political calculations regarding the presidential election. The resumption of a summit meeting should be talked about only after South Koreans are persuaded that North Korea has abolished its nuclear arms.