`Road Map' for S-N Coexistence Unveiled
Since taking the oath of office 14 months ago, President Kim Dae-jung has unveiled, little by little, the basic outline of his ambitious plan to coax North Korea on to the path of reform and openness and lay the groundwork for Seoul and Pyongyang to live peacefully through coexistence.
Details of the blueprint are shrouded in mystery but Kim revealed the important components of his road map for inter-Korean coexistence Wednesday.
In a meeting with military leaders, the Chief Executive indicated that he welcomes North Korea's decision not to demand the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Korea and its proposal to convert the status of the USFK to that of a``peace-keeping force.''
Kim said it is the first time that Pyongyang has backed away from its decades-old demand for a USFK troop pullout. He described North Korea's offer as a positive outcome of his engagement policy. It is still unclear where he obtained the information on North Korea's true intentions regarding the status of the U.S. forces.
Although Kim has not revealed his sources, his aides said Seoul and Pyongyang may discuss arms reduction or controls as long as the existing cease-fire agreement is converted into a permanent peace accord. But the issue of arms reduction must involve the North Korean Army, the South Korean Army and the USFK, they said.
The highlights of Kim's road map for peaceful inter-Korean existence include the establishment of diplomatic ties between North Korea and the U.S. as well as Japan. He has urged the United States to lift economic sanctions.
Under the principle of separating economics from politics, Kim has encouraged active inter-Korean business exchanges.
Under his road map, occasional provocations against the South, including spy actions, by the North Korean hard-line military will be dealt with harshly, but this should not overshadow his moves aimed at promoting inter-Korean coexistence. …