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South Korean envoy visits Pyongyang

South Korean envoy Lim Dong-won has returned from his three-day visit to Pyongyang, where he was scheduled to talk with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il. Kim was absent from the talks but Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s second-highest ranked leader, was present in his place. On behalf of South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, Lim presented a letter to Kim that stressed the importance of a paradigm shift in the way Pyongyang views its nuclear program and its effects on the entire Korean peninsula and even the world. A message was relayed that Kim Jong Il was thankful for the letter, promised to study its warm advice and would respond later. Lim also viewed dialogue with North Korea as a gradual and long-term process: “The fundamental solution of the nuclear issue can be resolved only when developers don't feel any need to develop nuclear weapons, such as only when the country suspected of building nuclear weapons doesn't feel any security threats and builds relationships of trust with other countries.”

There is great truth to Lim’s statement. However, the means by which that solution could be achieved is not so simple. U.S. President Bush has long been pushing diplomacy among many nations, including the two Koreas, on the issue of North Korea’s nuclear arms program. In the face of the difficulties of obtaining a resolution through diplomacy, he stresses the bottom line: "Today the North Korean regime is using its nuclear program to incite fear and seek concessions. America and the world will not be blackmailed.”

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