News



DATE=4/9/98
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
NUMBER=5-40020
TITLE=NORTH-SOUTH KOREA TALKS
BYLINE=STEPHANIE MANN
DATELINE=WASHINGTON
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  SATURDAY'S SCHEDULED MEETING IN BEIJING BETWEEN NORTH AND
SOUTH KOREA MARKS THE TWO COUNTRIES' FIRST DIRECT 
GOVERNMENT-TO-GOVERNMENT TALKS IN FOUR YEARS.  AMERICAN OBSERVERS
CALL IT AN IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT BUT ARE SKEPTICAL THAT MAJOR 
RESULTS WILL EMERGE, AS CORRESPONDENT STEPHANIE MANN REPORTS. 

TEXT:  IN 1991, NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA SIGNED AN AGREEMENT THAT 
PAVED THE WAY FOR DIRECT DIALOGUE AIMED AT RECONCILIATION BETWEEN
THE TWO COUNTRIES WHICH ARE STILL TECHNICALLY AT WAR. 

THEN, IN 1994, PREPARATIONS FOR A SUMMIT BETWEEN THE TWO 
PRESIDENTS WERE ABRUPTLY HALTED BECAUSE OF THE DEATH OF NORTH 
KOREAN LEADER KIM IL SUNG.  THAT AND OTHER FACTORS, SUCH AS THE 
NUCLEAR WEAPONS ISSUE AND MILITARY TENSIONS, CAUSED AN INDEFINITE
SUSPENSION OF DIRECT NORTH-SOUTH CONTACTS.  

// OPT // ANY ENCOUNTERS THAT HAVE OCCURED EITHER INVOLVED 
NON-GOVERNMENTAL GROUPS, SUCH AS THE RED CROSS, OR TOOK PLACE IN 
A MULTILATERAL CONTEXT WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF OTHER COUNTRIES 
ALSO PRESENT.  // END OPT // 

AMERICAN SPECIALISTS ON KOREA SAY IT IS A SIGNIFICANT AND 
POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT THAT THE NORTH TOOK THE INITIATIVE TO 
PROPOSE DIRECT TALKS, USING THE 1991 AGREEMENT AS A STARTING 
POINT.  

SCOTT SNYDER, A KOREA EXPERT AT THE U-S INSTITUTE OF PEACE, A 
WASHINGTON-BASED RESEARCH ORGANIZATION, SAYS NORTH KOREA IS 
TESTING THE GOVERNMENT OF NEW SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT KIM 
DAE-JUNG.  

                       // SNYDER ACT 1 // 

         I THINK THAT THIS MEETING IS GOING TO BE AN OPPORTUNITY 
         TO FIND OUT WHETHER SOUTH KOREA'S POLICIES HAVE CHANGED 
         SUFFICIENTLY THAT THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE GOING FORWARD IN
         A MORE EXTENDED DIALOGUE. 

                         // END ACT // 

MR. SNYDER SAYS THE AGENDA OF THE MEETING IN BEIJING IS EXPECTED 
TO FOCUS ON WAYS THAT SOUTH KOREA CAN HELP THE NORTH WITH ITS 
AGRICULTURAL PROBLEMS AND ITS INABILITY TO FEED ITS PEOPLE.  HE 
DESCRIBES WHAT EACH SIDE IS LIKELY TO GET FROM THE MEETING. 

                       // SNYDER ACT 2 // 

         I THINK WHAT THE NORTH KOREANS ARE REALLY LOOKING FOR IS
         MORE RESOURCES, PARTICULARLY IN THE AGRICULTURAL AREA, 
         IN THE AREA OF FERTILIZER, OTHER ECONOMIC INPUTS THAT 
         COULD HELP TO MEET SOME OF THEIR OWN NEEDS IN THE AREA 
         OF FOOD.  FOR THE SOUTH, I THINK THAT THE ESTABLISHMENT 
         OF A RECORD OF DIALOGUE WITH NORTH KOREA IS SOMETHING 
         THAT CLEARLY KIM DAE-JUNG HAS LONG HOPED FOR AND HOPED 
         TO BE INVOLVED WITH.  

                         // END ACT // 

// OPT //  IN ADDITION, MR. SNYDER SAYS SOUTH KOREA IS ANXIOUS TO
RAISE THE ISSUE OF DIVIDED FAMILIES -- PEOPLE SEPARATED ON 
DIFFERENT SIDES OF THE DEMILITARIZED ZONE AFTER THE KOREAN WAR 
ENDED IN 1953.  HE SAYS THE WAY THE TWO SIDES HANDLE THAT ISSUE 
MAY HELP DETERMINE THE POSSIBILITY FOR FURTHER PROGRESS OR 
ADDITIONAL MEETINGS. // END OPT // 

MR. SNYDER CAUTIONS THAT ANY PROGRESS IN THE KOREAN DIALOGUE WILL
BE SLOW AND MAY BE HINDERED BY FALSE STARTS.  HE DOES NOT EXPECT 
ANY HISTORIC BREAKTHROUGH BUT SAYS PROGRESS WILL BE MADE IF THERE
IS CONSISTENT MOVEMENT FORWARD FROM YEAR TO YEAR. 

ANOTHER KOREA WATCHER, DOUGLAS PAAL WHO WAS AN ADVISOR ON ASIAN 
ISSUES TO PRESIDENTS REAGAN AND BUSH, SAYS THE FACT THAT NORTH 
AND SOUTH KOREA WILL BE TALKING DIRECTLY TO EACH OTHER IS GOOD 
NEWS.  HOWEVER, MR. PAAL, NOW PRESIDENT OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC 
POLICY CENTER, IS EVEN MORE CAUTIOUS THAN SCOTT SNYDER IN 
ASSESSING THE DEVELOPMENT.  

MR. PAAL SAYS HE DOES NOT EXPECT SIGNIFICANT RESULTS BECAUSE HE 
SAYS THE NORTH NEEDS TO MAINTAIN THE SOUTH AS AN ENEMY.  HE SAYS 
PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING IN THE NORTH FROM EXTREME FOOD SHORTAGES, 
AND THE GOVERNMENT IN PYONGYANG NEEDS TO POINT TO OUTSIDE 
ELEMENTS AS THE CAUSE. 

                         // PAAL ACT // 

         SO THEY'RE REALLY PLAYING A TWO-TRACK POLICY:  ON THE 
         ONE HAND, MAINTAINING A HIGH LEVEL MILITARY READINESS, 
         BEING NON-COOPERATIVE IN THE FOUR-PARTY TALKS WHICH MET 
         JUST LAST MONTH, WHERE THE NORTH AND SOUTH KOREAN 
         DELEGATES REALLY WERE WIDELY APART AND THE NORTH REALLY 
         TREATED THE SOUTH WITH DISDAIN.  BUT WHEN IT INVOLVES 
         SOMETHING WHERE THEY THINK THEY CAN GET A DIRECT GAIN 
         FROM THE SOUTH, LIKE IN THIS INSTANCE AGRICULTURAL 
         INPUTS, FERTILIZER, THEY'RE WILLING TO MAKE A LITTLE BIT
         OF A COMPROMISE, GO TO BEIJING AND MEET WITH THEM AND 
         THEN TAKE THE GOODS AND RUN. 

                         // END ACT // 

MR. PAAL DOES NOT SEE THE NEW DIRECT DIALOGUE BETWEEN PYONGYANG 
AND SEOUL AS THE BEGINNING OF A PROCESS OF RECONCILIATION -- AT 
LEAST NOT YET.  HE SAYS IT IS PART OF THE ONGOING TENSIONS 
BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES, MARKED BY OCCASIONAL THAWS THAT ALLOW THE 
NORTH TO GET SHORT TERM GAINS.  (SIGNED)

NEB/SMN/PLM

09-Apr-98 3:40 PM EDT (1940 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.