News Analysis; NK-US Terrorism Talks to Affect Fate of S-N Summit

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), August 9, 2000 | Go to article overview

News Analysis; NK-US Terrorism Talks to Affect Fate of S-N Summit


The implementation of an inter-Korean summit accord might hit a snag as long as North Korea remains in the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, officials here noted.

The State Department told reporters Monday that U.S. Ambassador Michael Sheehan would travel to Pyongyang for two-day talks from today to determine whether the regime is ready to take steps to alleviate international concerns regarding its past records as a state sponsor of terrorism.

In January 1988, Washington designated North Korea as a terrorist state as a punitive step against the 1987 bombing of a Korean Air passenger plane by North Korean agents.

After the designation, the U.S. government blocked international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, as well as U.S. banks, from offering loans or credits to North Korea.

``As long as North Korea is classified as a sponsor of terrorism, South Korea's plans to make investment in North Korea will be hampered substantially,'' a government official said.

At present, the Seoul government is considering winning international loans, because domestic financial institutions are not capable of funding all large-scale infrastructure projects in North Korea.

``We hope that the terrorism talks would be wrapped up successfully and and in time, lest it would be an obstacle to future investments by South Korean firms in North Korea,'' another official said.

Under the June 15 Joint Declaration signed by President Kim Dae-jung and National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il, the promotion of inter-Korean economic cooperation is one of the key steps the two Koreas will have to put into action in the future.

At present, seven countries, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria, belong to the annually updated U.S. list of terrorist states. However, the State Department has hinted that North Korea might be one of the countries likely to be dropped from the list, if the current negotiations are wrapped up successfully.

In particular, the two countries held the first round of terrorism talks in March, headed by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan and U.S. Ambassador Michael A. Sheehan, coordinator for counter-terrorism.

At the meeting, the United States delivered a list of necessary steps to North Korea which were expected to be taken in advance to cr ate a favorable atmosphere for the lifting of economic sanctions.

To drop North Korea from the list, the U.S. State Department should assure the Congress that North Korea has not been involved in any form of state-sponsored terrorism for the past six months and would renounce terrorism in the future.

North Korea also needs to make a policy statement denouncing any act of terrorism and join terrorism-related international conventions.

North Korea has partly met some of the conditions by issuing a statement denouncing terrorism. …

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