Tuesday, March 25, 2003

A group of prominent US experts on Korea has challenged the Bush administration's rejection of direct negotiations with the DPRK, saying the US should begin talks to test the communist government's willingness to give up its nuclear program. The group includes four former ambassadors, three former top-ranking military officers, missile experts, academics and specialists who have offered a strategy to break the deadlock between Washington and the DPRK government in Pyongyang. The administration has said it will not negotiate until the DPRK agrees to dismantle its programs to develop nuclear weapons, and then will talk only in a multinational group. The DPRK insists on direct negotiations with the US. "There was division on the task force about whether it was too late to try to negotiate with North Korea," said the chairman of the group, Selig S. Harrison, director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy, a Washington research organization. But to discover what is possible, he said, "there was complete agreement that the first steps have to be in direct, bilateral negotiations between the DPRK and the US."
They say that insanity is persisting in the same behavior while expecting a different outcome. Why should we expect anything other than the behavior we have seen in rounds of negotiations throughout the 1990's?

Agence France-Presse ("SOUTH KOREA SEEKS TO EASE NORTH KOREA FEARS OF US STRIKE," reported that ROK President Roh Moo-Hyun tried to ease DPRK fears of a pre-emptive attack as the US-led war on Iraq raised tensions on the Korean peninsula. The DPRK condemned the US-led military action Monday as a "war against humanity" while the ROK has pledged support for the war effort. Fearing it could be the US' next target, the DPRK is now reportedly preparing for war and threatening to sever ties with the ROK. Over the weekend, the DPRK rounded on the ROK for stoking confrontation with the North, a charge analysts link to anger at the ROK's backing of the US. The DPRK suspended planned economic talks with the ROK scheduled for Wednesday, effectively freezing work on a joint project to build an industrial zone in the DPRK. Analysts say ministerial level talks set for next month may be called off. President Roh, an advocate of engagement with the DPRK, on Monday tried to calm tension by dismissing speculation that the DPRK could be the next US target after Iraq. "The president is concerned about incorrect and groundless reports that the United States could attack North Korea after the war in Iraq is over," Roh's spokeswoman Song Kyung-hee told a news conference.


People's Daily (Zhao Jiaming, "DPRK: US AIMS AT A SECOND KOREAN WAR," Pyongyang, 03/23/03, P4) reported that DPRK's Rodong Sinmun on March 22 carried a long commentary article stressing that US's strategic goal lies in launching an aggressive war on DPRK with the excuse of DPRK's nuclear issue. The second nuclear crisis raised by US is leading to the brink of war, which rendered the Korean Peninsula onto a crossroad of war and peace, the article said. DPRK and US had better conclude a non-aggressive treaty with equity and trust as its basis, through which to resolve the nuclear
crisis. The article stressed that such treaty has but one aim of preventing the possible second Korean War, and not for others. It is DPRK's firm stance to deal kindness with kindness, and counter toughness with toughness. The article also warned that if US cannot accept DPRK's suggestion and continue to press DPRK, there will inevitably be military conflicts and even a nuclear war, said the article according to the report.

THE WAR CONTINUES; too much going on to even begin blogging about it all.One thing I'm struck by is the fact that 'blogs have been doing a far better job at conveying information about the war than the traditional media. Our cable company yanked all but our basic service so for tv news all we get is the old networks. I watched them off and on for the first day or two but became increasingly furstrated at how little information they actually gave me. Ditto for traditional media sites like CNN.com or the major newspaper sites like the Washington Post or the New York Times. But if you go to The Command Post you get around the clock reports from reporters around the world, bloggers, and everyone in between. Given the nature of rumors and wartime reporting, not everything checks out but the coverage us far more comprehensive than anything else I've seen. Winds of Change and the ever-reliable Instapunidt aren't bad either.

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