Sunday, Jun 08, 2003
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By P. S. Suryanarayana
However, nuances of subtle differences in perception are understood to have surfaced during the talks, even as both sides underlined that they would not countenance a nuclear weapons programme by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or the North).
The Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, who played host to the South Korean President, Roh Moo-hyun, warned the Kim Jong-il regime in Pyongyang against taking any action that might aggravate the nuclear stand-off on the Korean peninsula and its neighbourhood. The note of warning was sounded within the framework of a joint preference for the peaceful resolution of all the issues at stake. In a joint statement issued at the end of today's talks, Mr. Koizumi and Mr. Roh indicated their disapproval of any nuclear weapons programme by the DPRK.
Both the statement and the comments by the two leaders at a post-summit press conference brought into sharp focus the efforts by them to walk a diplomatic tight-rope.
While the two were agreed on the diplomatic imperative of warning the DPRK against any precipitous steps by it to raise its nuclear profile, Mr. Koizumi and Mr. Roh differed in their perceptions of priorities within the policy framework of seeking a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Mr. Koizumi spoke of the need for engaging the DPRK in a `dialogue' and also for exerting international `pressure'.
The Japanese leader also saw the possible utility of "additional measures'', a transparent euphemism for economic sanctions, as a means towards a peaceful resolution. In Mr. Koizumi's diplomatic compass, the question of some definitive measures was seen as an aspect of or an adjunct to diplomatic pressure on the DPRK. Mr. Roh, on the other hand, spoke of the need for both dialogue and diplomatic pressure. Nonetheless, he underlined that South Korea would place `emphasis' on dialogue with the DPRK to resolve its nuclear issue. In this sense, Mr. Roh appeared to distance himself from the idea of economic sanctions, although the two leaders did not spell out any definitive plan for or against economic sanctions on Pyongyang.
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