South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said Monday he was confident that standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons would soon be over. In a rare summit last week, Roh struck a deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to work toward peace and greater economic cooperation between the two Koreas. And U.S. experts are preparing to visit the North to start plannng to disable Pyongyang’s nuclear reactors under a fresh six-nation agreement.
What the commentators said
“The prospects for peace and stability in northeastern Asia have never been better,” said The New York Times in an editorial. A year ago, North Korea “became the newest member of the world’s nuclear club,” but its test explosion apparently gave President Bush “focus.” Bush got a lot done by taking control of Korea policy and ramping up negotiations. The question now is what to do with Pyongyang’s nuclear stockpile.
The world is not out of the woods by a long shot, said the Montreal Gazette in an editorial. Behind the “cheery headlines” lies the reality that reunifying the two Koreas would “lead to economic and social chaos, almost as much as would regime collapse in Pyongyang.” And despite these “baby-steps” toward de-nuclearization, North Korea will remain “a problem child in the world community for years to come.”
Maybe, but Roh’s visit to North Korea “made history,” said Taipei's Taipei China Post in an editorial. This was only the second summit ever between the two countries’ leaders, and there is no guarantee that it will lead to any real progress toward reunification. “It is certain, however, that it will bring the two sides closer in terms of economic cooperation and political dialogue. In other words, it will help strengthen mutual trust and reduce mutual suspicion.”