News

September 3, 1997

NORTH KOREAN DEFECTORS: NEW ROUND OF 'ISOLATION' FOR PYONGYANG?

Analysts overseas worried that U.S.-North Korean relations would be "complicated"--if not "deadlocked"--by the recent high-profile defection to the U.S. of Mr. Jang Sung-gil, North Korea's ambassador to Cairo, and that of his brother, Mr. Jang Sung-ho, who was serving as commercial counselor at the North Korean Embassy in Paris. The defections, which occurred on the eve of "sensitive" missile proliferation talks in New York between the U.S. and North Korea--talks which Pyongyang withdrew from, citing the U.S.' granting of "asylum" to the defectors as a "grave insult" to North Korea--prompted editors to wonder whether the four-party talks scheduled for mid-September would go forward as planned. That these events coincided with North Korea's announcement that it was withdrawing from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights--following the passage of a UN subcommittee resolution accusing Pyongyang of "grave" human rights violations--prompted editors in Europe and Asia to warn that the "Hermit Kingdom" might become even more isolated from the rest of the world. "The North is now putting the bar on its door and locking it firmly," Seoul's independent Dong-A Ilbo declared. Also noting that North Korea had "turned inward," Paris's right-of-center Le Figaro concluded: "It remains to be seen whether Pyongyang's tantrum is just temporary or whether it marks the beginning of a long-lasting cold shoulder."

Papers in Seoul and elsewhere detected efforts at "damage control" on the part of both the U.S. and North Korea. "Remarkably, North Korea refrained from making kidnapping charges...(and) managed to avoid condemning the U.S.," Seoul's conservative Chosun Ilbo pointed out. "Obviously, it not only does not want to cross the U.S., it wants to turn the case into another advantageous bargaining chip," the daily argued. "The Americans, too...are trying to limit the damage," noted Munich's centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Moscow's reformist Izvestia likewise spoke of the U.S.' "trying to keep a low profile" in the defection case, concluding: "It is too early to tell whether Washington has won or lost by being hospitable."

Pundits elsewhere sounded a more ominous note, stressing that the combination of famine, international "loss of face" over the defection case and the military threat posed by North Korea make it "the most dangerous country on earth." From Rome and London to New Delhi and Singapore, commentators outlined the worst-case scenarios of a threatened North Korea either collapsing or attacking South Korea. "The message is grimly unambiguous," stressed Singapore's pro-government Business Times: "However annoying the North might be, unless handled tactfully, it could implode or explode. Neither would be to the benefit of its neighbors or the U.S." Not encouraging were the words of Pyongyang's official KCNA, which reacted to the UN subcommittee's resolution on human rights in North Korea by saying: "The unreasonable 'resolution,' which came when the U.S. and the South Korean puppets were escalating military threats (against us)...shows that the dishonest forces' anti-(North Korea) plots have reached a very dangerous stage."

This survey is based on 30 reports from 15 countries, August 27 - September 3.

EDITOR: Kathleen J. Brahney

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

NORTH KOREA: "Withdrawal From Rights Convention Legitimate"

Official KCNA broadcast this comment in English (8/28): "The United States, France and other Western countries adopted an anti-(North Korean) 'resolution on human rights' in defiance of (North Korea's) strong opposition at the 49th meeting of the UN sub-commission on human rights being held in Geneva, according to a news report. The 'resolution' urges (North Korea) to respect...international human rights standards and immediately submit a report on the implementation of the international convention on citizens' political rights.... The unreasonable 'resolution,' which came when the United States and the South Korean puppets were escalating military threats against (North Korea), shows that the dishonest forces' anti-(North Korea) plots have reached a very dangerous stage. It is an unbearable violation of (North Korea's) dignity and rights to independence and an intolerable challenge and interference in its internal affairs. In this regard, (North Korea's) foreign minister sent a letter [to] the UN secretary-general notifying him that the (North Korean) government decided to withdraw from the 'international convention.'... The withdrawal is a just, self-defensive step over which nobody can slander (North Korea.)... We have provided our people with genuine freedom and rights on a level far higher than the requirements of the 'international convention.'... No matter how others may raise outcries over the withdrawal from the 'international convention,' we will continue going our own way, smashing the dishonest forces' anti-(North Korea) moves. We warn that if the dishonest forces continue hurting our sovereignty by abusing other 'conventions' under the pretext of human rights, we will also withdraw from them."

SOUTH KOREA: "North Korean Ambassador's Defection And U.S. Concern"

Readers of independent Dong-A Ilbo saw this editorial (8/31): "Knowing it is not easy to bring North Korea, which ignores the rules of international politics, back to the negotiating table, the United States finds its relationship with North Korea deadlocked and more complicated. At first, the United States seemed optimistic about the North Korean-U.S. relationship, but after North Korea's boycott of the missile talks, the relationship froze.... The State Department is troubled that it has no leverage against North Korea at present and is painstakingly figuring out how long it will take before the North resumes talks."

"U.S. Quickly Changes Words"

Conservative Chosun Ilbo proclaimed (8/31): "We are disappointed at the State Department's correction of its statement regarding the status of the North Korean defectors. It sounds like a poor excuse. We suspect that something beyond legal matters made the United States change its position abruptly. We presume that the United States reversed its position so as not to provoke North Korea. By now the U.S. government should know better about North Korea and deal with it more firmly."

"North Korea Should Not Isolate Itself"

According to independent Dong-A Ilbo (8/29): "North Korea canceled the scheduled New York missile talks, adding further that it would withdraw from a UN-led international human rights treaty. In other words, the North is now putting the bar on its door and locking it firmly. Although its protest against the United States seems calculated, the North is stepping it up each day, hoping somehow to turn the situation into another bargaining chip. Since the North seems interested in relations with the United States, we do not expect the defection to hurt prospects for four-party and missile talks.... The North should understand that it has more to lose should a period of 'cool' relations continue...(and) that it will not resolve the situation by refusing to come to the missile talks."

"U.S. Gesture To Pacify North Korea"

Conservative Segye Ilbo insisted (8/29): "The U.S. State Department officially corrected its earlier statement by saying that Ambassador Jang and his party are in a 'protected status.' Obviously, that was a gesture to pacify the North, which is already very nervous. How the defectors were taken to the United States has not yet been revealed, but it is possible the United States had to use irregular methods. For that matter, the United States wants to avoid provoking the North further by moving slowly in processing asylum for the ambassador."

"It Is North Korea That Is Pressed"

Conservative Segye Ilbo commented (8/29): "It is extremely hard to predict if the four-party preliminary talks will take place as scheduled, and for that matter, when the United States and North Korea will resume their dialogue.... If critical information on the North's missile capacity and exports coming from Jang's investigation are publicized, the North's reaction will be even harder to predict. North Korea, threatened by all these developments, may have no option but to return to confrontation."

"North Korea Withdraws From Missile Talks"

Conservative Chosun Ilbo put forth this analysis (8/28): "By canceling the New York missile talks, North Korea expressed its displeasure over Ambassador Jang's defection. The second session of the preliminary four-party talks may be similarly affected. Nevertheless, it is too early to conclude that U.S.-(North Korean) relations will also suffer. Some insist the North canceled the talks merely to have better bargaining chips in talks later.... Remarkably, North Korea refrained from making kidnapping charges as it has always done. It also managed to avoid condemning the United States. Obviously, it not only does not want to cross the United States, it wants to turn the case into another advantageous bargaining chip."

"More Benefits Than Losses"

Under the above headline, pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo concluded (8/28): "The United States moved swiftly to grant Ambassador Jang asylum (sic) because it figured it would benefit more by doing so. The information on North Korea's missile capacity will be of the greatest benefit, while anything about the North's missile exports to the Middle East will also be invaluable. Tips on the relationship between the North's foreign service and the military will also be of interest.... Meanwhile, North Korea, already nervous because of the defection of Hwang Jang-Yop may become even more hysterical.... After all, the North cannot blame the United States for Jang's defection."

"'Calculated Protest' By North Korea"

Moderate Hankook Ilbo insisted (8/28): "North Korea knows the United States won't reverse its decision to grant Ambassador Jang asylum. The North's decision to withdraw from the New York missile talks should probably be seen as a temporary tactic to register its protest with the international community rather than as an indication of a longer-term deterioration in U.S.-(North Korean) relations. It is unlikely that the defection will affect prospects for the preliminary four-party talks."

"Jang's Defection And U.S.-South Korean Solidarity"

Independent Dong-A Ilbo maintained (8/27): "It is fortunate that Ambassador Jang and his family are safely in the United States and have filed for asylum there. What should now be done is to investigate as quickly as possible and let the defectors settle where they want. All this should be dealt with very carefully so relations with North Korea do not get tense.

"While U.S. State Department Spokesman James Rubin says it is too early for (South) Korea to contact the defectors, we view it differently: It is extremely important for us to verify what the defectors want.... All information on North Korea's missile exports coming from Ambassador Jang's investigation must be shared with the Seoul government. The United States should allow (South Korea) to join the investigation."

JAPAN: "Trouble Ahead?"

Liberal Asahi's Washington correspondent Mizuno predicted (8/29): "There will be no change in North Korea's policy of giving priority to improving relations with the United States. But if Pyongyang's hardline policy continues, it will be difficult to resume preliminary four-way talks on peace on the Korean peninsula in the middle of September. The United States will likely try to see whether Pyongyang will ease its hardline stance, by partially lifting sanctions or giving food aid to North Korea."

"Diplomatic Moves Necessary To Stop Intensification Of Tension"

Liberal Mainichi editorialized (8/28): "Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang each are taking an extremely cautious stance toward the latest defection case. The North Koreans do not criticize it as a U.S.- or South Korea-engineered abduction case, or as a plot against their country. They are taking a cool view of the case as the flight of (North Korean) 'criminals'; requesting that they be extradited. Behind this, it is said, was the swift contact Washington made with Pyongyang (over the case.) As soon as the United States decided to grant the North Korean diplomat and his wife political asylum, it told North Korea that (the diplomats) defected to the United States of their own free will.

"The United States made a move to 'respect North Korean honor and so that Pyongyang would not misjudge the situation.' But contrary to our expectations, North Korea suspended missile talks with the United States, which were due to start in New York on Wednesday. We hope that North Korea will not boycott the missile talks or preliminary four-party talks on peace on the Korean peninsula. If North Korea aggravates relations with the United States and other countries, thus heightening the tension on the Korean peninsula, (North Korea) will lose much more than it gains."

SINGAPORE: "Another Bumpy Ride To Geneva"

In the view of the pro-government Business Times (9/3): "No road to a peace conference in Geneva is ever smooth. That awareness should allow the world to view North Korea's apparent sulks with some sense of perspective. Given the North's precarious internal conditions, over-reaction could be fraught with danger.... No doubt Pyongyang feels that it has every reason to be aggrieved. It is humiliating enough to have to accept food aid from sworn enemies, especially from prosperous South Korea.... To add insult to the sense of injury, Ambassador Jang Sung-gil, who defected recently to the United States with his brother, Jang Sung-ho, a senior trade representative based in Paris, was the highest-ranking diplomat ever to turn his back on the communist fatherland. This followed the February defection of Hwang Jang-yop, a former secretary of Pyongyang's powerful Workers Party.

"As if all this were not enough, a United Nations human rights sub-commission chose this moment to adopt a resolution accusing North Korea of grave violations, including serious restrictions on the right of citizens to leave and re-enter the country, and mass internments in detention centers. If any other country--China, for instance--had been the target of such a resolution, the Asian community would have brushed it off as another example of Western bias. But North Korea is not so privileged. It is also vulnerable. Its only weapon is negative defiance. Hence the hurt and angry decisions to suspend bilateral talks with the U.S. on missile proliferation--especially sales to countries like Iran that Washington labels 'rogue states'--and to quit the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"But regrettable though these gestures are, they have no bearing on the second preparatory session of four-power talks scheduled to start in New York on Sept. 15, (which are) expected to lead to the full-dress Geneva conference.

"Pyongyang has said nothing about not taking part in either the New York or Geneva rounds. It is Seoul that has been harping...on a possible North Korean boycott. If the North does appear to drag its feet, it will be only to extract some concessions. That North Korea should do so is more understandable, in fact, given the crises it faces.... The uncertainty resulting from the failure of the philosophy of juche or self-reliance is confirmed by Kim Jong-II's continued reluctance to have an official inauguration, and by a reported tilt in favor of the military in the ruling hierarchy. The message is grimly unambiguous: However annoying the North might be, unless handled tactfully, it could implode or explode. Neither would be to the benefit of its neighbors or the United States."

EUROPE

GERMANY: "Is The End Worth The Means?"

Washington correspondent Peter Rzetznitzeck judged in an editorial in right-of-center Rheinische Post of Duesseldorf (9/2): "The flight of two high-ranking North Korean diplomats could not have come at an even more unfavorable time, since the Americans were at the threshhold of the third round of negotiations on controlling Pyongyang's arms exports.... North Korea's cancellation of the talks are overreactions of a power apparatus that is unpredictable and considers even the slightest negative event on the diplomatic stage to be a threat to the North Korean system.

"It is questionable whether this setback can be offset by exclusive information about (North Korean) arms supplies to the Near and Middle East.... As much as the CIA would like to know more about the internal situation in North Korea, the U.S. administration should also now fear the loss of the minor progress it achieved in tough talks with Pyongyang about the use of nuclear technology and food supplies for the starving population. Only via the rulers in Pyongyang does the West have any access to the isolated communist state. It is useless to hope for a revolt of the starving people. Under the yoke of tyranny, the North Koreans will hardly revolt against their tormentors."

"New Home In Country Of The Arch-Enemy"

Gebhard Hielscher penned this editorial for centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/28): "The defection of two top North Korean diplomats and their families is as delicate as the fact that they defected to the United States--of all nations--since North Korea has considered the United States its arch-enemy since...1949.... The loss of face of the regime in Pyongyang becomes is exacerbated by the fact that the older brother of North Korea's ambassador to Cairo has defected together with Jang. But the biggest domestic policy damage for Pyongyang is the defection of Choi Hae Ok, since the spouse of the ambassador is one of the most popular actresses in North Korea.... The fact that the only star of the North Korean system has now sought shelter in the country of the arch-enemy is causing a great stir in North Korea....

"But North Korea, too, has now greatly disappointed the Americans. It used the defection to suspend missile talks with the United States.... Obviously, Pyongyang wants to check how far Jang's defection has damaged its negotiating position before it...continues the dialogue with Washington. The Americans, too...are trying to limit the damage. However, the litmus test will come in September...when the next round of four-party talks about Korea's future is scheduled."

BRITAIN: "Korean 'Wild Card' Bolsters U.S.' Hand"

In the view of the conservative Times (8/28): "Pyongyang gets away with conduct that would not be tolerated in others for one reason--the threat this unpredictable regime poses to security in Asia. U.S. policy is dominated by two fears--of a nuclear-armed North Korea and of an Armageddon staged by rulers who, sensing their grip on power weakened by domestic disaster, could plunge the peninsula into war. North Korea understands this perfectly and tweaks U.S. and South Korean nerves. Military parades pledge loyalty to the regime 'in the spirit of human bombs and suicide attacks;' military pinpricks punctuate each insincere nod in the direction of talks. With menaces, it demands food aid, and by feeding the starving, the West frees funds for North Korea to spend on developing a new 3,500-kilometer-range missile, the Taepodon, to add to the arsenal sold to the West's enemies.... But Washington must hope that Mr. Jang can help it check the ballistic missiles program as well; for it is these weapons above all that make North Korea the most dangerous country on earth."

FRANCE: "North Korea Throws A Tantrum"

Jean-Jacques Mevel wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (8/28): "North Korea has once again turned inward by boycotting a meeting with U.S. diplomats.... The defection by Jang Sung-gil is a good thing for the CIA. The North Korean ambassador to Cairo has first-hand information on North Korean arms sales to Egypt, Syria and Iran. After the Soviet Union's collapse, North Korea became the number-one source of weapons for Israel's enemies.... It remains to be seen whether Pyongyang's tantrum is just temporary or whether it marks the beginning of a long-lasting cold shoulder."

ITALY: "Serious Blow For North Korea"

Arturo Zampaglione wrote from New York for left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (8/27): "As ambassador to Cairo, Jang Sung-gil knew everything about negotiations for the sale of ballistic weapons.... The defection of the ambassador is a serious blow to the totalitarian regime of Kim Jong-il.... It will weaken Pyongyang's diplomatic position...will add to the isolation of the country.... North Korea is a country in total chaos and close to collapse. There is concern that the...Communist regime may seek a way out by mobilizing its huge military machine, resorting to a war by attacking South Korea."

"Defection Ramifications"

A report from Seoul in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore held (8/27): "U.S. sources have expressed the fear that the recent defection of the two North Korean diplomats may have a negative impact on the delicate U.S.-North Korean talks resuming in New York today, which will touch on North Korea's missile program. If the detente process currently underway between Pyongyang and Washington fails, it may mean the suspension of the construction of two nuclear light-water reactors in North Korea, which was begun last week by a group of Western companies in exchange for North Korea's promise to close the reactors currently in use, whose waste could be used to build nuclear weapons." The same paper (8/27) carried an analysis of the situation in North Korea headlined "North Korea Heads Towards Disaster," focusing on the "very serious famine which is starving the entire population" as "the Communist regime seems unable to change course."

RUSSIA: "Defectors Ruin Talks"

Under this headline, reformist Izvestia (8/29) ran a report by Melor Sturua in Minneapolis: "Trying to keep a low profile has not helped the United States cushion the diplomatic effects of sheltering the North Korean defectors. It is too early to tell whether Washington has won or lost by being hospitable."

"U.S.: Safe Haven For Political Refugees"

Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (8/29) ran this comment: "The (North) Koreans will certainly not get their diplomats back. The United States, while prizing its fastidious ties with the wayward and unpredictable Juche followers, will not give up its reputation as a safe haven for political refugees."

"Defection May Benefit Israel"

Alexander Reutov pointed out on page one of centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (8/28): "The man's being privy to details concerning the supplies of North Korean rocket installations to Iran, Syria and other Arab countries is what must have interested the Americans in the first place. It is remarkable how the question of a high-technology transfer to Arab states has often been hyped of late. The current campaign precedes the Israeli defense minister's visit to the United States. Tel Aviv, apparently, will remind Washington of the millions of Arabs eager for a new war with Israel, hoping to beat the Americans out of more money for its military programs."

BELGIUM: "Defection Throws Four-Party Talks In Doubt"

Asian affairs specialist Philippe Paquet opined in conservative Catholic La Libre Belgique (8/28): "Ambassador Jang's defection deals the North Korean Communist regime a severe blow, a mere six months after that of its main ideologue, Hwang Jang-yop.... It is hard to tell whether this new defection is linked to the continuing deterioration of the social and economic situation in North Korea, in which some people see the beginnings of the Communist regime's collapse. It will, in any event, reinforce the regime's isolation because it seems doubtful that under such circumstances Pyongyang will maintain its participation in the just-begun quadripartite talks on the normalization in the Korean peninsula with South Korea, China and the United States."

CANADA: "Playing With Nuclear Fire"

The conservative Ottawa Sun ran this analysis by foreign affairs writer Eric Margolis (9/2): "U.S. intelligence scored a major coup by organizing the defection of North Korea's ambassador to Cairo and his brother, a diplomat in Paris. Cairo is North Korea's main base for weapons sales to Arab states and Iran. Ever since the 1991 Gulf War, Syria, Iran, Egypt and Iraq have been struggling to build offensive missile capability in the face of Israel's growing nuclear arsenal. Israel is estimated to have as many as 400 atomic and hydrogen weapons.... The Arabs and Iran are terrified of Israel's nuclear might.... Israel has so far been successful in the key strategic goal of maintaining a nuclear monopoly in the Middle East.... Neither Israel nor the United States can stop the Arabs and Iran from building more Scud-Cs and producing chemical-biological weapons. The technological genie is out of the bottle. So long as Israel has nuclear and chemical weapons, other Middle Eastern states will move heaven and earth to develop a counterforce. Unless the Middle East strategic arms race is stopped, Israel will face ever-growing dangers--such as persistent nerve gas and anthrax--that make today's terror bombings look like child's play. Even if North Korea collapses, other hard-up nations will sell military technology."

"Brutal Regime Deserves No Reward"

Foreign affairs analyst Eric Margolis wrote in the conservative Ottawa Sun (8/28): "The recent defection of North Korea's ambassador to Egypt is another tantalizing sign that the mysterious Stalinist regime in Pyongyang may be beginning to unravel.... While almost everything about North Korea is strange, nothing is odder than the Clinton administration's policy toward this 'rogue regime.'... President Bill Clinton has responded to North Korea's game of nuclear-chemical-biological chicken by appeasement worthy of Munich....

"Incredibly, the Clinton administration is giving North Korea two nuclear reactors.... Equally daft, the United States and South Korea are shipping food to 'starving' North Koreans, while Kim Jong-il's well-fed armed forces, secret police, Communist Party officials and two billion (sic) bureaucrats have ample food.... Contrast U.S. policy toward Iraq with North Korea. The United States maintains a crushing embargo on Iraq.... North Korea, which openly threatens U.S. troops, South Korea and Japan with nuclear/chemical/biological attack, is mollycoddled and bribed with aid and nuclear plants. Why torment Iraq while rewarding North Korea for more belligerent behavior than Saddam Hussein's? Why reward North Korea for threatening neighbors and developing weapons of mass destruction, while razing Iraq to the ground for doing the same thing? Conversely, why not bribe Saddam to be good and supply hungry Iraqis with U.S. wheat? Answer: Bleeding Iraq is popular with many important financial contributors to the Democrats. Most Americans don't know or care about Korea. Better avoid trouble, concludes the Clinton administration, by paying extortion to North Korea's gangster regime."

SOUTH ASIA

INDIA: "Jang's Step Might Be Quite Rewarding To U.S."

An analysis in the centrist Hindu (8/28) by Tokyo correspondent F.J. Khergamvala said: "The North Korean regime...let off some steam on Wednesday and demanded the return of its defected ambassador to Egypt as a criminal but there is practically no chance that it can repatriate either this diplomat or his brother.... Coming as it does on the eve of the next round of U.S.-North Korean talks on missiles proliferation, Jang's step might be quite rewarding to the United States.... Indeed, though North Korea had indicated that the defection will not prevent this round of talks, it may give rise to suspicion that the United States engineered the defection. This thought is timely, considering that the apparent slowly evolving resumption of a direct U.S.-Iran dialogue is unpalatable to some quarters in the establishment as it is inconvenient to Israel, which has begun ringing alarm bells about Iran's missiles."

"U.S. Grants Asylum To Jang"

The centrist Hindu's Washington correspondent Sridhar Krishnaswami said this (8/28): "Analysts are making the point that the defections are a major embarrassment to the regime in Pyongyang.... In the past few months there has been much concern over the famine in North Korea and its implications to not only the Korean peninsula but to the Asia Pacific as a whole... Not many here are prepared to give up the thinking that when pushed to the wall the regime could resort to an attack across the demilitarized zone....

"The United States will be bearing not only the major brunt of such a military attack--it has 37,000 troops--but also will be responsible for the evacuation of tens of thousands of its citizens and that of allies in the event of an all-out showdown in the troubled peninsula. Although tensions in the Korean peninsula seems to have lessened in the last few months, those dealing with the problem here now speak of...(several) scenarios in the Asia Pacific's most troublesome flashpoint.... (One of these scenarios) sees Pyongyang wanting to come out of its isolationist shell and normalizing relations in the region and with the United States. The argument here is that if the regime in North Korea opens up, it would be an economic boom time with countries such as Japan and Taiwan pouring millions of dollars for reconstruction and development. Strategically the argument has been made that while the powers in the Asia-Pacific would like to see a clear way out of the nuclear problem in the Korean peninsula, China, Japan and Russia would also want a divided peninsula instead of a single nationalist force in the neighborhood."

IRAN: "U.S. Should Return 'Escapee' Diplomats"

Tehran's official Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran aired this commentary in Persian (8/27): "The North Korean authorities have announced that the escapee diplomats are guilty of embezzlement and financial corruption and revealed state secrets during their terms of service.... If we...accept such a viewpoint, the escapee diplomats must be regarded as offenders. They should be returned to North Korea on the basis of international laws and regulations regarding the extradition of offenders. If the United States avoids such an action, it should be regarded as an accomplice to the crime and...must accept responsibility for its actions.... The U.S. refusal to hand over these diplomats to North Korea will have a negative impact on the process of the four-party talks between the United States, North Korea, China, and South Korea.... The question is why, despite these negative consequences, has the United States given asylum to the escapee diplomats?... Washington (may) launch intense, Cold War-style propaganda against North Korea. It could acquire fabricated information from these diplomats and...ultimately portray North Korea's political system as inefficient and on the point of disintegration. This is a policy that the United States has followed for some time."

MIDDLE EAST

EGYPT: "Defection May Cause Strains In Egypt-U.S. Ties"

Columnist Kotb el-Arabi penned this for pro-Islamist bi-weekly Al-Shaab (9/2): "it seems that Egyptian-American relations are about to confront another crisis after the defection to the United States of the North Korean ambassador to Cairo.... He managed to defect with the assistance of the CIA and the participation of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Despite the warm relations that exist between the two countries, this intelligence operation is not the first to be carried out in Egypt. In 1985, the U.S. Air Force hijacked an Egyptian plane that had among its passenger Mohammed Abbas (Abu Abbas), who was accused of hijacking the Achille Lauro.... Of course the defection of the North Korean ambassador did not happen overnight, but there was planning and the zero hour was chosen before the return of the ambassador to his country."

ISRAEL: "The Stick And Carrot Policy Still Works"

Liberal, influential Haaretz told its readers (8/29): "Some commentators fear that the diplomats' defection will...make North Korea turn back to its old ways, the first sign being Pyongyang's decision to suspend the missile talks with the United States.... Others claim that benefits will result from the defection, providing the United States with vital information about missile deals with Middle Eastern countries.... North Korea does not have an alternative.... President Clinton is using the stick-and-carrot policy...which has already proven itself.... This policy will likely continue and bring forth results in the future."

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4/6/98

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