[Documents menu] Documents menu

Kim gets ‘realistic’ on North after US visit

The Straits Times, Tuesday13 March 2001

Faced with Washington’s hard line on the communist state, the Korean leader seems to have altered his approach to Pyongyang, analysts say

SEOUL—South Korean President Kim Dae-jung seems to have departed from his flexible reciprocity strategies and has turned more realistic in dealing with the North in the face of the firmer US stance on Pyongyang, analysts said.

They said Mr Kim’s withdrawal of a plan to promote an inter-Korean peace declaration during a proposed visit by the North’s Kim Jong Il to Seoul this year came as a result of the tougher US position.

After talks with US President George W. Bush in Washington last week, President Kim said he would reactivate a non-aggression pact included in the 1992 Basic Agreement between the two Koreas, rather than push for the peace declaration.

One analyst said Mr Kim may have felt a burden in unilaterally promoting the peace agreement when South Korea and the US are showing a perception gap with regard to the North.

After the talks with Mr Bush, Mr Kim had said the communist North was undergoing a wondrous change and the US should not miss a chance to end the 50-year Cold War on the peninsula.

But Mr Bush said he was sceptical of the North’s leader and would not immediately resume talks on scrapping its missile development programme.

Mr Kim’s proposal to revive the now dormant 1992 Inter-Korean Basic Agreement is an apparent departure from his flexible reciprocity aimed at inducing the North to cut its military threats after providing economic and diplomatic incentives to Pyongyang first.

Unlike Seoul’s flexible policy, the US has vowed to deal with the North strictly. It has said it would take corresponding action only when the North agrees to verification of its weapons of mass destruction, including missiles and conventional weapons.

Professor Kim Sung Han of the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, affiliated to the South’s Foreign Ministry, said: Kim’s proposal is a message hoping that the Bush administration, which is trying to deal with the North with micro reciprocity, will approach the North more broadly.*#8212;Korea Herald