DATE=5/5/2000 TYPE=WORLD OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=NORTH-SOUTH KOREAN SUMMIT: SIGN OF A THAW? NUMBER=6-11807 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 CONTENT= 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 risk. 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 resolution ... 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 Peninsula. 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 the West. 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 Paris: 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 their relations. 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. NEB/ANG/JP 05-May-2000 13:26 PM EDT (05-May-2000 1726 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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