US to Discuss Environment Issues in SOFA Talks
United States Ambassador to Korea Stephen Bosworth said yesterday that Washington would launch full-fledged discussions on environmental and labor issues in the upcoming negotiations to revise the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
Bosworth said at a conference held at the National Assembly that the U.S. would make utmost efforts to make sure that concrete results are produced, which are acceptable to both sides.
As to the SOFA provisions on criminal jurisdiction, which has been a bone of contention between the two countries, the U.S. ambassador stopped short of going into details, saying, ``We presented draft proposals to the Korean government some weeks ago and look forward to discussing the subject during the negotiations to begin next week.''
On the question of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's remarks to pledge renouncement of its missile development program, Bosworth declined to directly answer. ``We still know far too little. But given the high values North Korea as attached to the missile program over the past several years, North Korea will want something extremely valuable in return for giving it up,'' said Bosworth.
As to the question on the prospect of talks between North Korea's Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun with his U.S. counterpart Albright, he declined to comment, saying, ``It is very imprudent for me to predict the outcome of the meeting that is going to be held by the Secretary of State.''
Touching on North Korea's economy, Bosworth asserted that the country has to change its economic policy. ``The economy of North Korea has declined to the point where recovery is fundamentally impossible without the infusion of substantial amounts of resources from the outside. In other words, North Korea cannot reverse the course of its economy by itself with its own resources,'' said the Ambassador. ``North Korea itself too however will have to modify or change very substantially its own economic policy.''
In regard to the above, he said North Korea could receive economic assistance form the outside world. ``Assuming that it is prepared to make changes in its domestic economic policy, one can expect that some portion of the costs of restructure in North Korea will be met through the international community,'' said Bosworth. ``North Korea can be expected to be eligible to receive developmental assistance from the international financial institutions such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. …