Toward a lasting peaceThe so-called “2+2” meeting will be held in Seoul tomorrow. It is the first time in the 60-year history of the military alliance between South Korea and the United States that top officials in defense and foreign affairs from both countries will come together.
The meeting is primarily aimed at evaluating the achievements of the alliance and crafting a vision for the future. The meeting will also deal with the aftermath of the Cheonan sinking.
The statement produced after the meeting will include the details of planned naval drills between the two countries and other measures to deter potential provocations from North Korea. These actions will serve as a strong warning to North Korea, which has been persistently denying its involvement in the Cheonan sinking.
The meeting is also expected to cover a Cheonan exit policy and the resumption of the suspended six-party talks on denuclearization of North Korea. China and North Korea stressed the resumption of six-party talks immediately after the United Nations Security Council adopted a presidential statement condemning the North for the Cheonan sinking. But our government has repeatedly said the resumption of the six-party talks is difficult unless the North takes “authentic measures” regarding the Cheonan.
We believe the meeting should also cover the actions South Korea and the U.S. should take when North Korea undergoes such measures, because the meeting will be a watershed in the resolution of the tragic incident.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of our alliance, we propose that both sides set a new agenda for the meeting: how to go beyond merely keeping the peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.
During the past six decades, the strong ROK-U.S. alliance has contributed greatly to the prevention of another war in this region, and the importance of the alliance will never be diminished. But there is an increasing number of people who think that just preventing war is not enough.
The U.S. and China have already confronted each other sharply over how the Cheonan incident should be handled. The two countries are still bickering over the upcoming ROK-U.S. joint military drill.
Again, we hope that the first 2+2 meeting will take the initiative to move beyond the goal of merely keeping the peace and set a new goal of establishing a permanent peace on the peninsula.
In the process, they should also present a new vision to remedy the ongoing confrontation between South and North Korea - and between the U.S. and China.