Seoul Must Be Firm in Talks with N.Korea

      January 08, 2018 13:14

      Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon will meet on Tuesday his quasi-counterpart from North Korea, Ri Son-gwon, who chairs the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland. The first high-level inter-Korean talks in two years will discuss North Korea's participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and "other issues of mutual interest."

      International reaction has been largely positive. U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the talks and characteristically took all the credit, saying, "If I weren't involved they wouldn't be talking about Olympics right now." The Chinese government said South Korea and the U.S.' decision to halt joint military drills during the Winter Olympics would be reciprocated by a cessation in North Korea's nuclear and missile tests during that period.

      The official [North] Korean Central News Agency said Sunday that North and South Korea must "mutually" head toward cooperation, but the U.S. insists that the pressure on the North must be maintained via sanctions.

      Seoul must go into the talks with a clear sense of objectives. Its guiding principle must be that any dialogue must be geared toward solving the North Korean nuclear issue, and no agreements must be entered that make it harder to resolve the standoff. For example, no international principles must be compromised just to ensure a bit of glory for the Pyeongchang Olympics. There can be no promise to halt joint South Korea-U.S. military drills simply for a mere North Korean promise to freeze its nuclear program, because that would simply buy North Korea more time as it tries to perfect a nuclear-tipped intercontinental missile.

      Seoul would be reduced to a tool in realizing Pyongyang's evil schemes. It must not allow itself to get sucked into concessions that weaken international pressure on the regime.

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