Disappointing diplomacy

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Disappointing diplomacy

The diplomacy of the Lee Myung-bak administration during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum put us in despair, going beyond disappointment. They attempted to include some phrases urging resolution of the tragic accident on Mount Kumgang, North Korea, in the Chairperson’s Statement.

But they failed to do so. In particular, they belatedly urged Singapore, the host country, to make some corrections on the statement already confirmed, in a shameful manner. It is indeed a disgrace to Korea that is unparalleled in the nation’s history of diplomacy.

During the meetings, Korea has concentrated its energies on intensifying international pressure on North Korea with a view to resolve the accident in Mount Kumgang. North Korea insisted that the Oct. 4 joint statement adopted at last year’s inter-Korean Summit be implemented. Singapore planned to release the Chairperson’s Statement that reflected the intent of both parties.

The question was the following sentence: “[We] expressed strong support for continued development of inter-Korean dialogue based on the [Oct. 4] declaration.” The Lee government policy supports implementation of the provisions of the Oct. 4 declaration parallel to other inter-Korean agreements. Therefore, such an explicit expression could not be accepted by the government.

However, Singapore took a strong stance that they were unable to delete the request unilaterally made by North Korea. After all, the government had to endure the simultaneous deletion of its request, “We expect that the shooting death of a South Korean tourist in Mount Kumgang should be resolved as early as possible.” They had no choice but to accept the Singaporean position.

A major culprit behind such a deplorable situation is the Lee government’s arrogance and ignorance. North Korea has recently made enormous efforts in facilitating close ties with countries in this region by concluding a treaty on cooperation with Asean countries this time. Additionally, Singapore has faithfully been implementing the practice of international diplomacy, attaching importance to striking a balance of bilateral relations. However, the Lee government had a low opinion of these countries’ actions, thinking Singapore would unconditionally support it.

Korea’s international relations are currently in turmoil. Even though it has no legally binding effect, it is deplorable that the government tried to correct the statement released at an international meeting, as they pleased.

More importantly, we are deeply concerned that the national diplomatic and security team continues to display its incapability. They must overhaul the nation’s diplomacy and security team across the board.
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