August 09, 2000 16:45
According to the Wednesday edition of the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun North Korean leader Kim Jong-il clearly agreed with President Kim Dae-jung that United States forces in Korea (USFK) should remain in Korea even after unification for peace keeping and maintaining the balance of power. Citing high ranking Korean officials, the newspaper continued that calls for a withdrawal of the USFK were intended for the North Korean people, and military which is in "part maintained by tensions." He added that South Korea should ignore the propaganda. Kim Jong-il reportedly also asked that surplus electricity generated in South Korea be transmitted for use in the North.
During discussions at the summit meeting between the countries' two leaders Kim Jong-il said; "The U.S. forces must not attack us. I agree with some aspects of President Kim's explanation. The U.S. forces need not withdraw now. The U.S. forces had better stay on to maintain peace even after the two Koreas are unified." This comment was made following the North Korean leader asking Kim Yong-sun, head of the Asia Pacific Committee his thoughts on the USFK. Kim Yong-sun said that they must withdraw, to which Kim Jong-il retorted to the South Korean president, "Like this, the men under me oppose whatever I try to do. Our military probably thinks the same way as Secretary Kim."
The following is the full text of the article;
"N. Korea backs U.S. presence after unification
August 9, 2000
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told South Korean President Kim Dae Jung he is amenable to U.S. forces remaining in the Korean Peninsula to keep the peace after unification, according to high-ranking government officials in Seoul. Kim Jong Il accepted the notion that a strong U.S. presence helps maintain regional peace and security. He offered this frank assessment during the historic inter-Korea summit held in Pyongyang in June. In the past, senior North Korean officials have indicated they would not oppose a continued U.S. presence. Even so, the sources said it is significant that Kim showed such pragmatism during the first-ever meeting between the leaders of the divided Koreas.
Kim Dae Jung broached the subject during talks at the Baekwawon State Guest House on the afternoon of June 14, the sources said. "The U.S. forces stationed in South Korea (Republic of Korea) are playing a key role in maintaining regional peace and stability in East Asia. What will become of the regional balance of power if U.S. forces withdraw?" he asked. Kim Yong Sun, secretary of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, responded first, saying, "The U.S. forces must withdraw from the Korean Peninsula." But Kim Jong Il stepped in, asking Kim Yong Sun what problems he envisaged if U.S. forces stayed on.
When Kim Yong Sun began repeating that U.S. forces must withdraw, Kim Jong Il told him to stop. Kim Jong Il, turning to Kim Dae Jung, continued; "Like this, the men under me oppose whatever I try to do. Our military probably thinks the same way as Secretary Kim." "The U.S. forces must not attack us. I agree with some aspects of President Kim's explanation. The U.S. forces need not withdraw now. The U.S. forces had better stay on to maintain peace even after the two Koreas are unified."
The United States loomed large in the discussions on the co-existence of the two Koreas. Analysts said that Kim Jong Il and Kim Yong Sun appeared to have acted out scripted roles during the talks.
A senior South Korean government official offered this explanation of Kim Jong Il's intentions; "North Korea [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] remains wary of the possibility of an invasion by South Korea and at the same time is concerned about Japan's military buildup and China becoming a military superpower."
Kim Dae Jung and Kim Jong Il met for about 11 hours, including meals, between June 13 and 15. The two leaders spent 6 hours and 20 minutes talking, of which 3 hours and 20 minutes was spent talking one-on-one. The talks centered on unification.
Kim Jong Il led the charge, saying, "What else do we talk about except the unification issue?" He emphasized the importance of an "independent unification," citing a 1972 joint statement that rejected reliance on foreign forces or interference by other countries in discussing the future of the Korean Peninsula.
Kim Dae Jung responded; "This is not the time to exclude foreign countries. I decided to come here (Pyongyang) on my own will (although) I informed the United States and Japan (of my decision). It is not the kind of independence that is exclusive (of foreign countries)."
"Surely independence in the real sense of the term means maintaining our own stance while keeping good relations with neighboring countries and cooperating with them." Kim Jong Il said he sympathizes with the idea of "open independence." Kim Dae Jung replied; "South Korea has neither the power nor the will to absorb and unify your country." Kim Jong Il responded; "It is the same with us."
Kim Jong Il then suggested a federation system, in which the central government would administer diplomacy and defense policies. Kim Dae Jung said it would not be possible to set up that sort of administration quickly and reiterated his support for a union system, under which two independent governments would cooperate with each other. Kim Jong Il candidly acknowledged that it would take about 50 years for a central government with full authority to come into being.
A senior South Korean government official who accompanied Kim Dae Jung to Pyongyang said, "Probably, nobody in North Korea is more pragmatic than Mr. Kim Jong Il." He recalled an exchange between the two leaders on the issue of U.S. forces issue. When Kim Dae Jung said "North Korea, through press reports, always insists on the withdrawal of U.S. forces," Kim Jong Il said, "It is intended for our own people. Please do not worry about them too much because our military is in part maintained by `tensions' (on the Korean Peninsula)."
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