February 07, 2006 19:24
There is no immediate solution to Washington’s problems with North Korea, and Seoul should be more wary of China, the U.S. congressional policy advisors and experts said. They met at a seminar titled Asia 2006: The View from Capitol Hill sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.
Frank Jannuzi, legislative assistant to Senator Joseph Biden, one-time presidential candidate said there was no chance of bringing about a solution to the North Korean nuclear standoff for the time being because neither Congress nor the White House want to be responsible for possible failure.
He suggested North Korea’s ambition to build nuclear weapons stems from a fear of becoming the next Iraq.
Dennis Halpin of the House International Relations Committee warned of growing Chinese influence on the peninsula. “Korea is a ripe apple, swinging to fall on the lap of China,” he said, but added a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Korea could be used to improve the two countries’ relations. However, he cautioned there are still many roadblocks on the path to an FTA.
Halpin cited the example of rice, which he said was as important in Korea as cars are to the U.S. He expressed concern that if the Democratic Party picks up just two more congressional seats, the FTA could fail. Halpin also cited press reports that Seoul is trying to block the production of a musical about a North Korean concentration camp, and urged the South to take more active issue with human rights abuses in the North.
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