June 16, 2005
KOREAN PENINSULA: 'CONFRONTATION CANNOT SOLVE' NUCLEAR CRISIS
** Dailies praise the Bush-Roh summit's "very significant" success in reaffirming the alliance.
** Regional papers note the U.S.' "new strategy" excludes "coercive measures."
** Chinese writers "hope the Six-party Talks will soon resume."
** Media pan the U.S.' "fundamentally wrong" policy and the North's "intransigence."
'Quenching concerns about rifts'-- South Korean media agreed that the "elaborately prepared" summit between Presidents Bush and Roh "brightened prospects" for the U.S.-ROK alliance. Conservative Chosun Ilbo opined that the "commitment to speaking with one voice" was a "significant achievement," and independent Joong-Ang Ilbo agreed that the talks "calmed fears" of friction between the two allies. Other analysts countered that "problems with the alliance are deeper than one might think." China's intellectual Guangming Daily said Bush and Roh "failed to reach consensus" on policy towards the North, while Japan's moderate Yomiuri said they tried to "hide their differences" at the summit.
The U.S. 'softened its approach'-- Analysts held that Bush's "careful comments" showed an "unequivocal commitment to dialogue." The U.S.' "tone has changed," said France's Catholic La Croix, joining Vietnam's army-run Quan Doi Nhan Dan to term the U.S. "initiative to soften its stance" a "wise move." Korean dailies also lauded the two leaders' promise to resolve the conflict "peacefully and diplomatically." Skeptical papers, however, distrusted Seoul's "continued approach of appeasement." Germany's left-of-center Berliner Zeitung declared that South Korea's "generous assistance...has totally failed" to evoke "more rational behavior" from Pyongyang; Japan's liberal Asahi urged Seoul to "face and tackle" reality.
Six-party Talks are 'most important'-- Chinese papers called the "resumption of the Six-party Talks" a priority. Without this "multilateral party framework," noted official International Herald Leader, it will be "hard to ensure" any agreement. Other Chinese writers termed the talks a "signal of East Asian security" that could "become a basic framework" for a future regional "security mechanism." Liberal Korean dailies agreed that the nuclear issue "must be resolved peacefully through the Six-party Talks." Nationalist Hankyoreh Shinmun called the talks the "only framework to resolve" the North Korea issue successfully.
Both sides are 'playing for time'-- The U.S. "should ask itself why the Six-party Talks have failed," said critics, who assailed Washington's purported goal of seeking Pyongyang's "unilateral surrender." Pro-PRC Macau Daily News found U.S. claims that Beijing is "failing in its responsibility as mediator...unreasonable," while official China Youth Daily blasted Washington's "contradictory policy." Leftist Korean papers urged Washington to offer a "new proposal" that would give the North "security guarantees and economic aid." Other papers blamed Pyongyang's "authoritarian regime" for the lack of progress. Austria's independent Der Standard judged the "nuclear blackmail state" is determined to follow its "path of folly."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 34 reports from 10 countries over 7 - 16 June, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA: "Will The Two Parties Talks Replace The Six-Party Talks?"
Wang Xuansheng stated in official international International Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu Daobao) (6/16): "The New York channel is a low-level direct channel of communication between the U.S. and North Korea.... The Bush administration expressed earlier that it would not discuss political issues through the New York channel. Thus the recent U.S.-North Korea discussion through the channel shows the administration is facing growing pressure on its policy against North Korea. But the two parties talks won’t replace the Six-Party Talks: first, as long as there is no major shift in U.S. domestic politics, the U.S. won’t replace the Six-Party Talks with the two party talks. Second, ROK and Japan both have their own interests on the Korean peninsula. Third, without a multilateral party framework, it’s hard to ensure the U.S. and North Korea will carefully implement an established agreement. Fourth, all parties hope the Six-Party Talks can become a basic framework of Northeast Asia’s future security mechanism. Even if the Six-Party Talks can’t go on, as long as the U.S. and North Korea can peacefully resolve the issue, it fits China’s interests.”
"Roh’s Visit To The U.S."
Xu Baokang commented in official People's Daily (Renmin Ribao) (6/14): "The U.S. and South Korea emphasized the need for a peaceful resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue. Secondly, the two sides worked to repair their relations. Analysts believe that the security situation in Northeast Asia is in a state of transition. Thus, the U.S.-South Korea summit was very significant. The situation on the Korean Peninsula will influence global security. People hope the Six-Party Talks will soon resume.”
"The U.S. And South Korea Negotiate But Differences Remain"
Wu Jianyou observed in official intellectual Guangming Daily (Guangming Ribao) (6/13): "The U.S. and South Korea have failed to reach consensus on many issues. South Korea advocates solving the nuclear issue through dialogue and contacts, while the U.S. insists on keeping its options open, including imposing sanctions and/or submitting the issue to the Security Council. President Roh indicated that the two sides also have differences on a joint military plan. South Korea thinks that such a plan might harm Koreas’ sovereignty. The U.S. is very unhappy with South Korea’s position on this issue. A senior U.S. Defense Department official went so far as to say that the U.S. would not rule out withdrawing its troops from South Korea if the two sides cannot agree on the issue.”
"From Tyrant To Mister"
Shang Han commented in official international International Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu Daobao) (6/9): "In recent talks, U.S. President Bush for the first time in a long time referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as ‘Mister Kim.’ In the past President Bush was not so polite and referred to him as 'a tyrant.' Recent information indicates that the attitudes of the U.S. and North Korea toward one another has changed. These two important members of the six-party talks now realize that confrontation cannot solve problems. The resumption of the six-party talks depends on the two sides recognition of this fact. The six party talks are a signal of East Asian security and also an index of world security. This discussion of the North Korea nuclear issue is also a test case of how the international community will deal with such problems in the future. It is expected that the six-party talks will be constructive. It is hoped that this meeting of six countries to discuss a single topic will lead to a mechanism that the entire region can use in the future. Such a perspective begins with mutual respect and understanding.”
"Can The U.S. And North Korea Contacts Re-Start The Six-Party Talks?"
Weng Xiang held in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (6/7): "Recently North Korea initiated contacts with the U.S. through its New York channel. Analysts point out that the Bush administration’s contradictory policy toward North Korea is the result of severe fights between the administration’s 'hawks' and 'doves.' Based on North Korea’s response to U.S. officials’ recent statements on North Korea, it appears that Pyongyang believes that the 'hawks' are creating problems and it hopes that the administration can regain control of its policy. It is not clear whether the six-party talks can be restarted. This depends on how President Bush balances the demands of the 'hawks' and 'doves.' It also depends on South Korea’s next steps. South Korean President Roh will visit Washington this Friday and we may know the answer after this meeting.”
CHINA (MACAU SAR) "U.S.-South Korean Summit Cannot Heal Differences"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (6/14): "To forge a common stance between South Korea and the U.S. regarding North Korea as well as heal any rifts in the alliance, South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun met with U.S. President Bush on June 10. The two leaders jointly called on North Korea to return to the six-party talks as soon as possible. Although both stressed that they shared the same goal of making the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons, they still had differences on how to realize such a goal. Such differences have deepened the rift between the U.S. and South Korea.... The biggest difference between the U.S. and South Korea is the degree of toughness in their stance on North Korea. In the meeting, Bush confirmed that they would try to resolve the North Korean issue via diplomatic means in order to save face for Roh Moo-Hyun, who has been very cautious about taking a tough stance.... Obviously, Bush's remarks were designed to prevent South Korea's retreat.... Despite the good foundation for the U.S.-South Korean alliance, the two countries have differed on how to deal with North Korea from the very beginning."
"Six-party talks Are Becoming More Complicated"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (6/10): "North Korea recently announced that it possessed nuclear weapons. It has urged other countries to recognize North Korea as a 'nuclear country.' This shows that North Korea is altering its negotiation strategy. The six-party talks may become more complicated.... Lately, relations between North Korea and Japan have worsened. North Korea has even suggested kicking Japan out of the six-party talks. Moreover, Sino-Japanese tensions and the frequent Sino-U.S. conflicts have given North Korea the opportunity to seek its advantage. Objectively, these tensions and conflicts have hindered the resumption of the six-party talks. In reality, the differences over the North Korean nuclear issue involve mainly the U.S. and North Korea. If the U.S. is not flexible enough, the U.S. may not be able to achieve satisfactory results even if the talks resume. China has done its best in bringing about the six-party talks. Thus, it is unreasonable for the U.S. to accuse China of failing in its responsibility as mediator. The U.S. should ask itself why the six-party talks have failed to make any significant progress."
JAPAN: "Summit Did Not Change North Korea"
Top-circulation moderate Yomiuri editorialized (6/16): "It has been five years since the historic South-North Korea summit took place, but no concrete progress has been made to improve the security situation on the Korean Peninsula. Although South Korean President Roh has reiterated that he would never tolerate the North's possession of nuclear weapons, Seoul's continued approach of appeasement toward Pyongyang appears to indicate de facto recognition of a nuclear North Korea. South Korea's economic assistance has failed to convince the North to abolish its nuclear weapons program and the South-North summit brought no change in Pyongyang's totalitarian system. Instead, the meeting drastically alleviated the South Korean people's concern about the security threat posed by the North."
"How To Deal With North Korea's Nuclear Threat"
Liberal Asahi editorialized (6/15): "There has been a sharp decline in sentiment among South Koreans for a reunion of South and North Korea that upsurged following the historic meeting between former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang five years ago. This is chiefly because North Korea later declared its nuclear weapons development. The demise of the KEDO framework with the U.S., Japan and South Korea providing North Korea with light-water nuclear reactors was due to the North's failure to freeze or abandon nuclear weapons development. Five years ago, it was unimaginable that Pyongyang would declare ownership of nuclear weapons, posing a threat to the international community. It is quite clear that South and North Koreans alone cannot solve North Korea's nuclear issue. It has also become known that issues on the Korean Peninsula cannot be resolved without commitments from the U.S., Japan, China and Russia. How will South Korea face and tackle these realities? We welcome the meeting between Presidents Bush and Roh at the White House last week during which the two leaders reaffirmed the importance of the U.S.-South Korea alliance. Geopolitically, South Korea cannot help but have a conciliatory approach to the North. Seoul should fully explain its strategy toward Pyongyang and strengthen its alliance with Washington and Tokyo."
"Seoul Should Bring Pyongyang Back To Six-Way Talks"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun editorialized (6/14): "During the past year, there was no progress on the DPRK's abandonment of its nuclear weapons development or on the resumption of the suspended six-way nuclear talks. South Korea, which takes a conciliatory approach to North Korea, should take strong initiative in bringing the North back to the multilateral forum. President Bush and South Korean President Roh agreed during their meeting at the White House last week to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue at the six-way talks. President Roh has been promoting a conciliatory policy toward North Korea to restore stability to the Korean Peninsula without the use of force or pressure. But the North declared ownership of nuclear bombs in February and the completion of extraction of about 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods in May--defying the six-way talks by proceeding with the development of nuclear weapons.... As a direct party to South-North Korea affairs, South Korea should initiate a move to return peace and stability to the peninsula. The South should also play a key role in bringing the North back to the six-way talks."
"Concern Over Encirclement Of North Korea"
Moderate Yomiuri opined (6/12): "A question remains over how closely President Bush and South Korean President Roh agreed during their meeting at the White House last Friday on measures to deal with the DPRK's development of nuclear weapons. The U.S. is skeptical of Seoul taking a conciliatory approach to Pyongyang. Nonetheless, Washington tried to highlight its strong ties with Seoul after the summit talks, apparently to hide their differences. This is a very delicate time now as North Korea has sent mixed signals on whether it will return to the stalled six-party talks. If the U.S. avoided discussing important but difficult problems with South Korea to spotlight their friendship, it would be detrimental to finding a solution to the North's nuclear weapons issue.... If the six-way talks fail, the North will further develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.... Japan cannot overlook the emergence of a situation further endangering its national security. It is important for the concerned countries to apply a carrot-and-stick policy jointly without discord on North Korea to urge it to dismantle its development of nuclear arms."
"Can U.S. And South Korea Reaffirm Common Strategy On DPRK?"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai said (6/12): "A proverb says summit talks never fail. This is because working-level officials make elaborate preparations beforehand to make summit talks a success. At their White House meeting on Friday, Presidents Bush and Roh reportedly urged North Korea to return to six-way talks and reaffirmed the importance of the bilateral alliance. The Bush-Roh summit talks were elaborately prepared by officials of the two countries. But it is not immediately known how effective the announced U.S.-South Korea accord will be in resolving North Korea's nuclear arms development or whether it will help improve U.S.-South Korea relations. Following the meeting, the two leaders reaffirmed the U.S.-South Korea alliance. At the meeting, did President Roh retract his recent remark describing South Korea as a 'balancer' between the U.S., Japan and China?"
"North Korea Demands Recognition Of Its Nuclear Status"
A commentary in liberal Asahi read (6/9): "North Korea, during its officials' contact with State Department diplomats in New York on Monday, urged that the U.S. recognize it as a nuclear state and treat it as such.... According to a source familiar with US-North Korea relations, Pyongyang did not reiterate its previous position that the six-party talks should be a venue for discussing arms control on the Korean Peninsula.... Though the North did not elaborate on how they want to be treated as a nuclear power...Washington will undoubtedly reject their reported demand."
SOUTH KOREA: "Minister Chung Dong-young’s June 15 Pyongyang Test"
Independent Dong-A Ilbo held (6/14): "It is both hoped and of concern that Unification Minister Chung Dong-young will visit North Korea...for the fifth anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration. His visit carries enormous implications in that it takes place at a time when the North Korean nuclear issue is reaching a major turning point.... While there has been a remarkable increase in inter-Korean cooperation...conflicts have emerged within the South over assistance to the North, and the Korea-U.S. alliance have been frayed.... Presidents Roh Moo-hyun and George W. Bush...said that North Korea would get commensurate rewards if it returns to the talks and renounces nuclear weapons. Under the circumstances, Minister Chung should make a focused effort to persuade the North, making it clear that the window of opportunity will not be open forever. He should neither limit his role to assistance of the event held by the private sector nor make an unrealistic political promise.... He should bear in mind that few politicians have benefited from using the North as a political card. Dialogue with Pyongyang should be based on sharp calculations and firm principles. Moreover, a wrong agreement is worse than no agreement. As the minister in charge of national security, Chung should hopefully be committed to finding a breakthrough on the North Korean nuclear issue."
"Hopefully A Turning Point For The Peninsula"
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun declared (6/15): "The reason the festival in Pyongyang is particularly meaningful is because...the window of inter-Korean dialogue has been thrown open.... If this opportunity is put to use it could be the turning point that transforms the political situation on the Korean peninsula, cloudy because of the North Korean nuclear issue, into a time where the spirit of national reconciliation and peace overflows.... Even if there is no meeting with chairman Kim it will still be possible to have frank and meaningful discussion because key players from North and South with considerable influence will be meeting.... Presidents Roh Moo Hyun and George W. Bush met a few days ago and reaffirmed the principle of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully and diplomatically, and that more reason why this opportunity must be taken to make tangible progress on peace on the peninsula. Progress in intra-Korean dialogue and solving the nuclear issue must happen in harmony.... The North must engage in frank discussion with the South, so that among other things it is able to feel reassured and make the 'strategic decision' to give up its nuclear plans and participate in the six-party talks.... The government delegation must...help the North come to the talks without excessive suspicion or fear.... The private delegation is in Pyongyang...because of the earnest wish for national reconciliation and reunification.... If North and South meet often and speak from the heart it will be possible to remove the war clouds that surround the peninsula. The South can assume the central role in constructively resolving the issue of what the North is demanding of the US in exchange for giving up its nuclear weapons, namely a security guarantee and economic support.... We hope there is frank discussion with substantial results. They must find points that can be wisely pursued to overcome the nuclear crisis which is weighing down on the future of the Korean nation."
"What's Next For President Roh"
Ha Young-sun wondered in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (6/14): "The Korea-U.S. summit has ended.... As expected, the two heads of state emphasized their unwillingness to tolerate North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons and their commitment to a peaceful and diplomatic resolution. They also reconfirmed that the two nations are prepared to offer substantial aid to North Korea if Pyongyang decides to give up its nuclear weapons.... Pyongyang appreciated President Bush's use of the courtesy title 'Mister' when referring to Kim Jong-il...and his reassurance that Washington did not intend to strike North Korea. Pyongyang emphasized that the comment would contribute to creating a conducive atmosphere for resuming the six-party talks.... As a result, the series of careful comments by President Bush reiterated at the summit should positively affect the chances of resuming the six-party talks.... However, North Korea has redefined the nature of the six-way talks.... In North Korea's view, the six-party talks should also address the nuclear arms the U.S. possesses as well. It's extremely unlikely that there will be any resolution on this point.... At the summit in Washington, President Bush and President Roh Moo-hyun confirmed the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. and discussed the direction of the alliance. They also agreed to maintain a low profile on the controversial issues.... However, the problems with the alliance are deeper than one might think.... The South Korean government has been working hard to modify the Korea-U.S. alliance to promote a collaborative self-reliance at this juncture in the post-cold war era. However, it is impossible to be at the center of East Asia in the 21st century with only this sort of viewpoint.... We need to correctly read the composition of the new East Asian alliance, which centers on the United States and Japan and the emergence of China.... This is the most urgent task for President Roh."
"The ROK And The U.S. Must Continue To Speak With One Voice"
Conservative Chosun Ilbo declared (6/13): “This ROK-U.S. summit came as the bilateral alliance was said to be so strained that its very foundations were starting to shake, while the North Korean nuclear standoff was approaching a critical point. Accordingly, the fact that the two presidents demonstrated a commitment to speaking with one voice on both the North Korean nuclear issue and the alliance itself can be seen as a significant achievement.... If the ROK and the U.S. are to keep speaking in the ‘one voice’ they must have endeavored to achieve at the summit, Seoul and Washington should make concerted efforts so that their differences of opinion are not exposed and jointly respond to the post-summit situation with a sincere attitude. The two leaders discussed how to deal with the North Korean nuclear standoff on the premise that the North will return to the negotiating table, as it seems to have signaled. However, Pyongyang may yet defy their expectations, or may return to the talks only to filibuster by presenting conditions the international community cannot possibly accept. If and when situations arise that the two presidents have not taken into consideration, it is vital that they coordinate their responses using all channels available to them.”
"A Healthy Alliance"
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo argued (6/13): “The recent ROK-U.S. summit in Washington can be termed a ‘success,’ as it has calmed fears that there is friction in the ROK-U.S. alliance and that there are differences in the approach to the North Korean nuclear crisis.... Due to differences between hardline U.S. officials and ROK officials seeking to embrace the North, there were concerns that the summit might not proceed smoothly. A framework has now been established upon which the ROK-U.S. alliance needs to be strengthened.... What is left now is the North Korean nuclear issue. For stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula, and for the future of the Korean race, this problem needs to be resolved quickly. President Bush referred to the North’s leader Kim Jong-il during the summit by the title ‘Mr.,’ and not as a ‘tyrant’ and ‘dictator.’ He also reaffirmed that the U.S. has no intention of attacking the North and hinted that in the end, normal relations between Washington and Pyongyang are possible, indicating a willingness to resolve the issue peacefully. North Korea cannot let such an opportunity pass it by. It needs to return to the Six-Party Talks immediately and build a cornerstone upon which the nuclear crisis can be peacefully resolved, and the mistrust of the international community dispelled. North Korean leaders need to know that if they do not take this chance, it will be hard for the ROK to resist the international demands for the imposition of sanctions, because it will have no more justification for doing so.”
"Window Of Dialogue"
The independent English-language Korea Herald maintained (6/13): "Presidents Roh Moo-hyun and George W. Bush...focused on two key issues--the long-running North Korean nuclear problem and the frayed Korea-U.S. alliance. Roh and Bush reaffirmed they will not tolerate a nuclear North Korea and reconfirmed their commitment to resolve the problem through diplomacy.... Stressing South Korea and the U.S. are of one voice on the nuclear issue, the two leaders called on Pyongyang to return to stalled multinational talks without any conditions. We reckon this unequivocal commitment to dialogue has improved the environment for Pyongyang to return to the negotiation table. Furthermore, Bush pledged to establish 'more normal relations' with North Korea if it abandons its nuclear weapons. But North Korea sent confusing signals before the summit. On the one hand, North Korean officials expressed their willingness to rejoin the six-party talks.... But on the other, North Korea's top negotiator for the six-nation talks said on Wednesday that his country has 'enough nuclear weapons to defend against a U.S. attack and is building more.' Despite the belligerent rhetoric, we expect Pyongyang will ultimately return to the six-party conference.... Pyongyang is aware that Seoul and Washington cannot indefinitely wait for the talks to resume.... The window of dialogue will close should the North continue its boycott of the international disarmament talks. Seoul should make this point clear to Pyongyang during the cabinet-level inter-Korean talks slated to start June 21.... The Roh-Bush summit was also meaningful in that the two sides reconfirmed their unshakable commitment to strengthen the half-century-old alliance, quenching concerns about rifts in the bilateral ties. The two nations showed they can narrow differences on a number of divisive issues."
"It Is North Korea’s Turn To Respond"
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun stated (6/13): “This summit meeting between Presidents Roh and Bush appears to have ended smoothly. In particular, at a time when the ROK-U.S. alliance is faltering and the North Korea nuclear issue is standing at a crucial juncture, it is greatly significant that the two leaders reaffirmed the principle of not tolerating a nuclear-armed North Korea and resolving the nuclear issue peacefully and diplomatically, while also demonstrating the soundness of the bilateral alliance.... The explanation by an official familiar with the summit that the two leaders did not substantially discuss countermeasures on the assumption that North Korea refuses to return to the Six-Party Talks brightens prospects for the resumption of the multilateral talks, and raises hopes that the North Korean nuclear standoff has been steered clear from a much bleaker situation.... We strongly hope that this summit will pave the way to dispel the overblown theories of ROK-U.S. discord and for us to deal with the ROK-U.S. alliance issues in a calm and methodical manner in terms of national interests. This ROK-U.S. summit marks the most critical turning point in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue and moving toward resuming the Six-Party Talks. Even though the summit results fall short of North Korea’s expectations and demands, now that the two countries’ leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a peaceful and diplomatic settlement of the nuclear issue and promised substantial aid and a possible normalization of relations between the U.S. and North Korea [in return for the North giving up nuclear weapons,] it is time for Pyongyang to make a corresponding response.”
"Expectations Run High On ‘One Voice’ From ROK And U.S. Heads Of State"
Moderate Hankook Ilbo declared (6/13): “This ROK-U.S. summit carries great significance in that the two leaders have dispelled bilateral discord and closed gaps over issues surrounding the ROK-U.S. alliance and the North Korean nuclear issue.... Of course, it would be hard to say that all conflicting issues between the two countries have been resolved with this summit alone. However, the ‘one voice’ chorused by the two leaders brightens prospects for the development of a future-oriented alliance between the two countries and for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue.”
"Keep A Careful Eye On North Korea"
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (6/9): “As tensions rise on the Korean Peninsula over the North Korean nuclear problem, what is most important at this time is that the nuclear issue is resolved peacefully through the Six-Party Talks. Since North Korea has expressed its intention to return to the negotiating table, it is necessary to demonstrate some flexibility in handling the situation wisely. For the ROK and the U.S., utmost priority should be placed on seeing that the talks take place. The two countries must be thoroughly prepared and accommodate the North’s proposal in a bigger framework.... We hope that North Korea will not fall into the mistake of losing everything by breaking its word, since it has let its intent known to the world to return to the negotiations. The North should keep in mind that there is no country in the world that will allow it to develop nuclear weapons, and return to the Six-Party Talks immediately.”
"ROK-U.S. Summit Should Produce Hope"
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun opined (6/9): “Of the two key items on the agenda for the upcoming ROK-U.S. summit, the North Korean nuclear issue and the U.S.-ROK alliance, the nuclear issue is the most concerning because the North’s attitude will very likely change according to what Roh and Bush have to say. During a recent meeting with U.S. State Department officials, the reason why the North’s mission to the UN did not specify a date for its return to the Six-Party Talks while expressing Pyongyang’s desire to return to the talks is because the North is extremely conscious of the summit. That is natural for the North because of its misgivings about U.S. policy toward it. Therefore, even if the upcoming summit talks do not produce new incentives for the North, there still must be a ‘strong message’ delivered to encourage it to return to the multilateral talks. If work of that nature is lacking and all the summit meeting does is simply discuss measures for dealing with the North’s nuclear program, the results could make the situation even worse. With regard to the ROK-U.S. alliance, avoiding even a rational discussion because of the expectation that both sides speak with the same voice is not desirable. Particularly, about USFK’s ‘strategic flexibility,’ which could significantly alter the security situation for the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, we need to explain our concerns in greater detail and get the U.S.’ understanding.... The most significant part of the upcoming ROK-U.S. summit is that, based on a healthy alliance, it finds a way to achieve a breakthrough for resolving the nuclear issue peacefully and diplomatically. Coming at a critical time, we hope to see this meeting produce results that could spell hope for the Korean Peninsula.”
"ROK’s Future Hinges On Roh’s June 11 Meeting With Bush"
Independent Dong-a Ilbo argued (6/8): “With the scheduled ROK-U.S. summit meeting drawing closer, foreign media reports say that North Korea has expressed its willingness to return to the Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. However, it is not clear whether Pyongyang has changed its stance or if it just tried to avoid further pressure from Seoul and Washington that is expected to escalate with the summit meeting. Regardless of whichever is true, only the fullest cooperation between the ROK and the U.S. can get the North back to the Six-Party Talks and persuade the communist state to abandon its nuclear weapons. President Roh should keep this point in mind and do his utmost to resolve the nuclear issue as early as possible and normalize ROK-U.S. relations, even if he has to face some uncomfortable situations during the summit meeting. This upcoming summit could decide the future of the ROK.”
"A Very Important Meeting"
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo concluded (6/8): “As a top ROK diplomat puts it, the upcoming ROK-U.S. summit ‘takes place when repercussions from the rift in the alliance has increased to such a degree as to shake the identity of the ROK Administration, and has very important implications in regard to the countries’ international relations'.... Accordingly, if Mr. Roh and Mr. Bush reach an agreement on the future of the alliance and the handling of the nuclear issue, and demonstrate the health of that alliance to the world, they will greatly contribute to the stabilization not just of their own countries, but of Northeast Asia and the world. It is an opportune time for such a meeting, with the two countries’ defense ministers having reached an accord on Operations Plan 5029 for dealing with a regime collapse in the North, and with contact between Pyongyang and Washington having resumed in New York recently. In addition, the relocation of Yongsan Garrison and U.S. Embassy issues are also largely resolved, and are awaiting ratification by the National Assembly. Furthermore, the ROK is faithfully carrying out its anti-terror and war efforts in Iraq, and has also contributed financially to the Iraq War, which contributes to building mutual trust between the two longtime allies. Mr. Roh and Mr. Bush should use this meeting to resolve any concerns about the alliance, and to prepare a basis for continuing this fifty-year-old relationship into the next century.”
"Imminent Crossroads On Six-Party Talks"
Moderate Hankook Ilbo said (6/7): “We heed recent media reports that the ROK and the U.S. have agreed not to provoke North Korea during the upcoming bilateral summit meeting. If the leaders of the two countries can produce a gesture that could be construed as sincere enough to create an atmosphere conducive to resuming the Six-Party Talks, it would have a positive effect on North Korea returning to the multilateral talks.... During the upcoming talks, the leaders of the two countries should thoroughly review ongoing efforts related to the North Korean nuclear issue and produce a substantial solution to bring the North back to the Six-Party Talks. North Korea, for its part, should realize that it could face a very difficult situation if it misses this opportunity, and should make a wise decision.”
"Resumption of Six-Party Talks Hinges On U.S. Attitude"
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun stated (6/7): “According to reports, the North Korean mission to the UN contacted the U.S. State Department a few days ago regarding the resumption of the Six-Party Talks on its nuclear program, and Washington sees this North Korean move as a sign of North Korea softening its position in refusing to return to the Six-Party Talks.... Furthermore, the North Korean move can be seen as Pyongyang taking steps to return to the multilateral talks. However, the hardliners in the Bush Administration still appear to be more interested in forcing the unilateral surrender of North Korea rather than resuming the stalled Six-Party Talks, as seen from a recent statement by a high-ranking Pentagon official that a decision would probably be made within the next couple of weeks on whether to refer the North Korean issue to the UNSC.... It is also important for Washington to come up with a new proposal, given that Pyongyang will continue to be hesitant to return to the Six-Party Talks, let alone to give up its nuclear program, as long as there is no sure guarantee of its security and economic aid. In this regard, it is a welcome development that Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator to the Six-Party Talks, said that new incentives are under consideration to draw North Korea back to the multilateral talks. The upcoming ROK-U.S. summit talks slated for this weekend should produce a more advanced proposal than the last round of the Six-Party Talks in June 2004. The Six-Party Talks are the only framework to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue diplomatically and peacefully. Accordingly, the Bush Administration should display an attitude of focusing on the resumption of the multilateral talks.”
VIETNAM: "A Tactical Retreat By The U.S."
Linh An wrote in official army-run Quan Doi Nhan Dan (6/9): "In a bilateral meeting between U.S. and North Korean representatives in New York on June 6, Washington said it would retract its threat to push for UNSC sanctions on Pyongyang's nuclear program.... The message from Washington is pretty clear: the U.S. will create all the best conditions for North Korea, it even agrees to de-escalate in this issue, but in return, North Korea also has to show its goodwill, the spirit to cooperate and the willingness to return to the negotiating table. At the current sensitive time, Washington's initiative to soften its stance towards Pyongyang is viewed as a wise move."
FRANCE: "South Korea And U.S. Want To Reassure Pyongyang"
Dorian Malovic wrote in Catholic La Croix (6/14): “It is clear that the tone has changed. After the summit in Washington between South Korea and the U.S., the impression is that the differences have been erased, at least for the time being, in order to facilitate North Korea’s return to the negotiating table.... The U.S., which for the past weeks has been paralyzed in its approach, seems to show a desire to soften its approach and to stop its threat and verbal abuse.... A new strategy appears to be in the works in order not to provoke Pyongyang. Thus President Bush has stopped talking about coercive measures...and addressed Kim Jong-il as ‘sir.’”
GERMANY: "End Of Sunshine"
Frank Herold argued in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (6/15): "Exactly five years have passed since the Korean North-South summit. But all hopes were in vain. South Korea hardly got anything in return for its generous assistance with money and food and for the political yieldingness towards the regime in Pyongyang.... South Korea's concept to force the North to show a more rational behavior through cooperation and concessions has totally failed. During his visit to Washington last week, South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun had to accept these accusations.... For quite some time, North Korea has been unable to survive on its own without food aid, and the country is now facing another famine.... If assistance from the South and China is stopped, the regime in North Korea would inevitably collapse. But neither South Korea nor China are willing to accept this. Both are afraid that, following a collapse, the considerable military potential will get out of control and millions of starving, demoralized refugees could flood the region.... In view of similar interests, South Korea and China have narrowed their views in their policy towards North Korea. But, following the failure of the sunshine policy, even these two countries have not yet found a new lever to effectively influence the regime in Pyongyang."
AUSTRIA: "Sticking It Out With Kim"
Markus Bernath remarked in independent Der Standard (6/9): "North Korea's best survival guarantee is its isolation. In sticking to this recipe, tested in the 15-plus years since the collapse of communism in the East, the regime in Pyongyang is being supported by North Korea's great antagonist, the US. This fact alone gives rise to the suspicion that there is something fundamentally wrong with US policy towards Kim Jong-Il's nuclear blackmail state.... Kim's isolation has its advantages for Washington: The US government does not have to enter substantial negotiations about North Korea's nuclear program. Instead, it is playing for time--just like Pyongyang: Through the establishment of Six-Party-Talks, discussions about the shape of the table, and the exchange of insults (Bush called Kim Jog-Il a 'pygmy;' Vice President Cheney was labeled a 'bloodthirsty beast'). Bush's reelection has not brought any noticeable changes in his policy toward North Korea. Washington goes into the new round of Six-Party-Talks without new ideas, but with charges against its 'strategic rival'--China."
QATAR: "North Korea Has To Be Coaxed Back To Talks"
The semi-official English-language Gulf Times declared (6/9): "Setting new conditions for resumption of talks on its nuclear ambitions, the unpredictable North Koreans have once again baffled international analysts. Pyongyang yesterday demanded that the US, the lead negotiator, must meet unspecified conditions for the resumption of the six-nation talks.... The Stalinist state’s latest position has come as a setback to global efforts to curb nuclear proliferation.... In the case of North Korea, world leaders in general and neighbours in particular have aired their concerns about the dangers of living with an authoritarian regime that is also a declared nuclear power. The prospects are all the more frightening considering the geo-political scenario of the volatile region that has seen many a deadly conflict.... The latest provocation for the standoff is said to be the US leaders calling North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-Il, names that allegedly insulted and slandered them.... Pyongyang has called for an end to US 'hostility' and also an end to US criticism of the Stalinist regime. Surprisingly, the toughening of the Korean stance came close on the heels of a rare meeting between US and North Korean officials in New York...and hopes raised by China for an early resumption of talks. It is widely believed that North Korea, an isolated communist country battling a food crisis, is planning to test nuclear weapons. North Korea also has a bad record for nuclear and missile proliferation. Recently it was reported that Pyongyang sold uranium hexaflouride...to Libya in 2001. It is likely that in withdrawing from the talks, but not abandoning them completely, Pyongyang may be hoping to win economic incentives from neighbours South Korea and China to coax it back to the negotiating table. Since a military solution to the dispute has been ruled out, ways to resume the talks have to be explored, possibly by giving an enhanced role for China in the whole affair."
INDIA: "Nuclear Challenge In N Korea"
Salman Haidar noted in the centrist Statesman (6/14): "While diplomatic inducements to contain its nuclear program continue, there is a sense that Pyongyang has chosen the path of folly, and if it ever tried to use the small nuclear arsenal it might have accumulated, that would only rebound shatteringly on North Korea. If this were all there is to it, the course chosen by North Korea would appear self-defeating, and nuclear weapons, if indeed it has them, would only add to its problems. Pyongyang, however, must see things rather differently. In its own estimation, it is a regime under threat, increasingly isolated in an unfriendly world. It has no security arrangement that could deter direct attack.... China...cannot be regarded as the reliable ally it once was. So North Korea has to look after its own security and find the means to deter its enemies. Nuclear weapons serve this purpose and give the regime some breathing space. The results achieved so far can be interpreted to support this line of reasoning: unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, it has not suffered invasion; unlike Iran, and also Syria, which are under severe pressure, North Korea is still being wooed, persuaded and cajoled. Its nuclear capacity, it can be argued, could have ensured that it has to be handled with much greater care.... Yet there are signs that the time for diplomacy may be running out. Recently, President George W Bush has spoken about North Korea in more forthright language.... His manner has suggested that more direct means of dealing with that country have not been excluded.... China remains North Korea's chief prop, the source of essential supplies of food and fuel. Its actions will come into close focus as the screw tightens, especially if the matter is now taken to the UNSC.... Neighbors, too, who have been active in the effort to engage North Korea in dialogue and deflect its nuclear ambitions, will have to deal with a new set of challenges.”
CHILE: "Bush Ranch Not Open For Roh"
Business-oriented Diario Financiero opined (6/13): "The Bush Administration was unaware of the rapid deterioration of U.S.-South Korea relations under President Roh Moo Hyun's government.... Roh and his followers...easily forget that Kim Jong Il's dictatorship poses a threat to Seoul and the security of Northeast Asia.... It’s fair to say the main obstacle to the success of the talks is not South Korea, China, or Russia but North Korea, which challenged the negotiating countries and sowed divisions among them. For these talks to succeed, Bush and Roh must put all differences aside to show a common front in the face of North Korea’s intransigence.”
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