TYPE=WORLD OPINION ROUNDUP
TITLE=NORTH-SOUTH KOREAN SUMMIT: SIGN OF A THAW?
INTRO: The announcement a few weeks ago that South
Korean President Kim Dae-jung and his North Korean
counterpart, Kim Jong-il, will meet in June in --
Pyongyang -- has set off a good deal of speculation
around the world.
At first, many newspapers were cautiously optimistic.
Others were skeptical that such a meeting could
actually take place. With the third round of
preparatory talks having wound up just Wednesday
[5/3], the skepticism has given way to another
question: why does normally xenophobic North Korea
want such a meeting with its arch-enemy.
We get some views on this and other questions
concerning the possible improvement of relations
between the two Koreas now from ___________ in this
week's World Opinion Roundup.
TEXT: One of the biggest daily newspapers in the
world, Tokyo's Asahi, took a line repeated in many
other papers that "excessive optimism cannot be
warranted, given the many twists and turns that have
occurred between the two Koreas in the past." Other
newspapers in Asia suggested that as far as North
Korea is concerned: words are cheap; wait to see the
deeds. Even so, several newspapers have begun to
temper their caution, admitting now that North Korea
appears to be "serious" about the upcoming summit.
And more than a few have begun trying to deepen their
knowledge about the isolated, hard-line communist
state to find out why it has decided to go ahead with
such a meeting after so many years of hostility.
We begin our sampling, appropriately enough, in North
Korea where the criticism of both South Korea and the
United States has not let up -- pending summit or no
pending summit. This comment comes from the Korean
Central News Agency's computer internet web site.
VOICE: The sharply increasing cases of
threatened bomb attack on the U-S forces' base
and installations in South Korea are an
expression of the South Korean people's curse
and resentment at the U-S aggressor forces in
South Korea, says (workers' newspaper) Rodong
Sinmun ... in a signed commentary ... An anti-U-
S struggle is mounting and U-S military bases
and installations in South Korea are becoming
its targets. ... The United States should
withdraw its aggression troops from South Korea
to put an end to its anachronistic policy of
military presence there.
TEXT: In an earlier commentary, the Rodong Sinmun is
quoted this way:
VOICE: ...A climate is now being created for
the reconciliation between the North and South
of Korea and peace on the Korean peninsula.
This offers the best opportunity for the
withdrawal of the U-S troops from South Korea.
The Korean people do not want to see the United
States remaining their sworn enemy.
TEXT: To the south now, for a commentary from former
South Korean foreign minister Han Seung-joo, which ran
recently in Dong-A Ilbo.
VOICE: Clearly, the new leader, Kim Jong-il, is
politically confident as a leader and in his
regime, and this shows in the fact that he has
taken a risky course of diplomacy. Six years
after his father's death, he must believe his
political standing is fully solidified, solid
enough to bear the dangers from starting to open
his country up to a more affluent South Korea.
The summit, in his eyes, is a gamble worth the
TEXT: Across town, this comment appeared in a column
in Joong-Ang Ilbo last month:
VOICE: President Kim Dae-jung's Pyongyang visit
in June will certainly carry ...[great]
significance ... While expectations are running
high, this Korean summit ... should be an
occasion to dismantle the 50 years of hostility
and mistrust between Seoul and Pyongyang, and --
more importantly -- to infuse a real sense of a
breakthrough into our relationship ... Once the
air of a new sense of trust sets through the
summit, the rest can somehow find its way toward
TEXT: For another view, we read in Tokyo's Yomiuri:
VOICE: the ... summit, if realized, will take
place for the first time since the two Koreas
were established in 1948 ... President Kim's
approach represents a great leap forward in the
South's diplomacy toward the North. It is
imperative -- first and foremost -- that the two
Koreas hold direct talks to ease tensions and
build a framework for peace on the Korean
TEXT: Moving farther afield, now, we head south for
the Australian view from Sydney and the business-
oriented Australian Financial Review.
VOICE: The ... summit ... offers the prospect
of a major reduction in tensions in one of the
world's most intractable security hotspots.
And, coming almost exactly 50 years after the
beginning of the Korean War, it will present a
powerfully symbolic way of finally closing the
door on Cold War tensions between communism and
TEXT: In Indonesia, the daily Suara Karya, a political
party daily, wrote:
VOICE: The North Korean government is making a
strong effort to demonstrate that it truly wants
to reconcile with South Korea. According to
Yonhap news agency, a senior South Korean
official noted that North Korea is seeking to
ease military tensions with South Korea... This
can be taken as a sign that the North Korean
military supports the upcoming summit. ... North
Korea suffers from a poor economy in which more
than half the population suffers from famine and
badly needs South Korean assistance.
TEXT: In Singapore, the Straits Times daily was at
once skeptical and excited by news of the summit.
VOICE: North Korea has been a slippery customer
[crafty adversary] even as its circumstances
have worsened steadily through starvation and
lack of spares and fuel. It takes but gives
little; its words are cheap. South Korean
negotiators know that better than anyone. Yet
in spite of this, it is hard to contain one's
excitement over [the] ... announcement that the
two adversaries stand ready -- at least in
intent -- to dismantle the Cold War structure in
their first summit meeting since the end of the
Korean War in 1953 ...
TEXT: In Europe, The London Times suggests:
VOICE: The thaw has been as dramatic as it is
unexpected. If South Korea's president ... does
actually meet Kim Jong Il, the "dear leader" of
North Korea, in Pyongyang this June, the mere
fact that the leaders of two nations technically
still at war have talked will be an
extraordinary breakthrough -- no matter what is
said. It is almost impossible to overstate its
symbolic and, possibly, strategic importance ...
TEXT: Recalling the problems that beset West Germany
when it began to assimilate East Germany after the
Berlin wall fell, France's Liberation, notes from
VOICE: A hasty reunification of the two Koreas
could be a major destabilizing element. This is
not yet the case, but the precedent of the
German reunification proves that history could
once again catch us off guard.
TEXT: And finally, in the financial capital of
Germany, The Frankfurter Rundschau wonders how things
would play out world wide, if the two Koreas improve
VOICE: A lessening of tensions ... is of
interest not only to Seoul and Pyongyang. It
would also mean that the distrust expressed in
public papers by U-S secret services against the
"rouge nation" North Korea would lose part of
its justification. ... Efforts by U-S
conservatives to revise the 1972 A-B-M [Anti-
Ballistic Missile] Treaty and the plans for
regional, space-based [theater] missile defense
systems (T-M-Ds) would become less plausible,
especially since the Russian Duma is [linking]
its ... long-delayed START-Two ratification to
the A-B-M -- T-M-D situation.
TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling from
some of the world's major newspapers on the
significance of the forthcoming summit meeting between
the leaders of North and South Korea.
05-May-2000 13:26 PM EDT (05-May-2000 1726 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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