A deeper understandingNorth Korea has started fueling its long-range rocket, beginning the countdown for the planned launch. It could happen any day now.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama met on Thursday in London and reached an understanding that the launch would violate United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, and that a unified response would be required from the international community. Obama said the UN Security Council was preparing for new sanctions against the North.
As we have emphasized the importance of firm collaboration between Seoul and Washington in dealing with a North Korean rocket launch, we hope that the agreement between the top leaders of the two countries will lead to action.
Some raised concerns about Korea-U.S. collaboration, as the American administration had made remarks that sounded as if it had accepted the North’s possession of nuclear weapons, and that the launch was for a satellite and therefore the rocket would not be intercepted.
Likely aware of this concern, President Obama made it clear that neither nuclear possession nor proliferation would be accepted from the North. He also declared that North Korea wouldn’t be able to create a crack in the long alliance between Seoul and Washington. He promised to have transparent and comprehensive discussions with South Korea on implementing a North Korea policy. He made a timely remark when Pyongyang wanted to tighten its ties with Washington while isolating Seoul.
As for approval of a Seoul-Washington free trade agreement, a pending issue for both countries, President Obama said Washington intends to move the deal forward. This remark gave us the expectation that the U.S. stance on the FTA may become more flexible, although we need to wait and see.
As for the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. president said it was an issue that the international community needed to pay attention to as a whole, and officially asked for Korea’s support.
The issues that Korea and the United States had beneath the surface have finally emerged, and we need to make our stance clear.
The two leaders met only for around 30 minutes while they attended the G?20 summit meeting, so it would have been difficult to discuss all pending issues thoroughly. But Obama invited Lee to the United States in June. We hope that the U.S. will have finished examining its North Korea policy by then and that South Korea will have also decided its position on the issues, so the summer meeting will be deeper and more thorough.