Italy to Pass along Messages of Openness to N.Korea

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), March 1, 2000 | Go to article overview

Italy to Pass along Messages of Openness to N.Korea


Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema said that Italy would pass along messages of ``moderation and openness'' to North Korea via its newly established diplomatic channel with the reclusive nation.

He also noted that Italy, via the framework of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) whose third meeting is set for this October in Seoul, is ready to share Europe's experiences in creating a security consultation mechanism in East Asia, a region bereft of regional security organizations.

During an exclusive interview with The Korea Times on the occasion of President Kim Dae-jung's forthcoming state visit to Rome, the Italian leader assured the Korean public that Italy had launched close consultation with the Kim administration in a process to normalize diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

He hoped that Italy's diplomatic ties and assistance would help North Korea join the international community as a responsible member and alleviate security concerns in this part of the world.

In the written interview, the prime minister also expressed his visions on close Korea-Italy business ties, especially in the fields of small and medium-sized industries, and the promotion of cultural exchanges.

He also revealed major agenda items he would address during his forthcoming summit talks with President Kim.

Following is the complete text of the interview.

Question: Italy has become the first country from the Group of Seven industrialized countries to establish diplomatic ties with North Korea. We believe that Italy's diplomatic ties with North Korea would help promote peace and security on the Korean peninsula. What kind of roles could Italy play to ensure peace on the peninsula?

D'Alema: Let me first say that Italy established diplomatic relations with North Korea in consultation with and with the full approval of the South Korean government, which correctly perceived this step taken by Italy as being fully consistent with the engagement policy it pursues.

From a general viewpoint, our position is that dialogue is to be fostered in any case. Italy has formally established diplomatic relations with Pyongyang with a view to thereby open a new channel of communication.

We shall use said channel to pass along messages of moderation and openness, and we trust it will work efficiently, and that with our assistance as well North Korea may move toward ever greater integration with the international community.

In its contacts, Italy will certainly promote any factor deemed useful for assuring stability and security in the region: Stimulating dialogue between the two Koreas, gradually fostering the integration of the authorities of Pyongyang in a network of contacts, including multilateral ones.

Quite evidently, Italy is far distant from the region itself and the opening of a mere diplomatic channel is not to be overestimated. Nonetheless, we do feel there is room for a specific contribution on the part of Italy in the sense to which you referred.

Q: In October, Korea plans to host the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which is a bridge of cooperation between the regions. What role do you expect Korea to play to successfully host the event and how do you assess the future prospects of the intercontinental consultative body?

D'Alema: The fact that Seoul will host the ASEM summit next October will undoubtedly be meaningful for various reasons.

Korea, the 11th industrial power in the world, is caught up in the mainstream of processes of economic internationalization and globalization. Therefore, it is a country particularly well suited to host a forum of consultation between two areas of enormous economic importance such as the Asian countries and European Community.

Moreover, Italy very much appreciates the fact that in the ASEM, Korea enhances not only aspects of an economic and financial nature, but likewise those with broader political scope and meaning. …

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Italy to Pass along Messages of Openness to N.Korea
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