Summit provides chances for dialogue with N. Korea

By: Kang Seung-woo

President Park Geun-hye and U.S. President Barack Obama need to use their summit as leverage to bring North Korea back into dialogue, according to analysts.

Park arrived in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, for a four-day state visit and is scheduled to hold a summit with Obama at the White House, Friday. The two heads of state are expected to focus on the North Korean nuclear issue.

“The Obama and Park administrations need to give their successors better circumstances than they inherited, but so far they have completely failed to do so regarding North Korea,” said Van Jackson, a professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu.

“So alliance policy should focus on measures that promote stability on the Korean Peninsula ― talks between North and South Korea help keep the situation stable, and remove the crisis mood that North Korea uses to invest so heavily in its nuclear and missile programs.”

Jackson, a former Pentagon strategist, added that if there is a crisis-free atmosphere on the Korean Peninsula, Park and Obama are likely to issue a slightly toned down joint statement to bring the North back to dialogue.

“I think that’s probably the best move for now,” he said.

Terence Roehrig, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, said that dialogue remains an important goal and it is important to continue trying.

“Seoul and Washington must stick to their goal of denuclearization, but not keep it as a precondition for talks,” he said.

Although China and North Korea want an unconditional return to the long-stalled six-party denuclearization talks, the U.S. government insists that the North must show sincerity before the negotiations resume.

“Dialogue does not mean compromising on important goals and principles, but it can be a way of at least reducing tension on the peninsula,” Roehrig said.

The recent situation on the Korean Peninsula is raising speculation that Park and Obama may adopt a conciliatory approach toward the North because it did not carry out a highly-anticipated launch of a long-range ballistic missile on Oct. 10, the foundation day of its ruling Workers’ Party.

In addition, Kim did not mention its nuclear weapons program in his speech and instead, stressed improving living standards of his people.

“A joint statement by the two presidents will likely emphasize the necessity for credible and authentic talks with North Korea on denuclearization as the pathway to achieving tension reduction, improved U.S.-North Korea relations and eventual peace on the Korean Peninsula,” said Scott Snyder, director on U.S.-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“If North Korea had tested or does test in the future, one would expect a far more harsh and critical joint statement along with steps to further punish North Korea under existing UNSC resolutions.”

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