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Roh Optimistic on Six-Way North Korea Nukes Talks

Roh Optimistic on Six-Way Talks on NK Nukes

BALI, Indonesia - President Roh Moo-hyun said on Wednesday (Oct. 8) he was confident that the second round of six-way talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis will take place in the near future, pointing out, “South and North Korea and relevant countries share a common conviction for the peaceful settlement of the issue.”

“I am optimistic about the North Korean nuclear issue as relevant parties share the notion that it should be resolved through dialogue,” Roh said, meeting with Cheong Wa Dae correspondents at the Hyatt Hotel here where he is staying.

But he cautioned that the issue may face a setback in the short term due to continuing differences held by the nations involved.

“Given their different and complex interests, it is possible that the matter will take a negative turn from a short-term perspective despite efforts to press for further negotiations,” he said.

Referring to Pyongyang’s call for the exclusion of Japan in the future six-way talks, Roh said Tokyo’s participation is necessary to address the issue in a comprehensive manner.

“I regret Pyongyang’s statement criticizing Tokyo,” he said during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Roh cited the possible cancellation of the Korea Energy Development Organization (KEDO)’s project to build two light water reactors in North Korea, which would aggravate the North’s energy shortage.

“The North faces many dire problems, including a food shortage, which further aggravate the security situation. That is what I worry about most,” he said.

Roh revealed a strong willingness for South Korea to press ahead with talks toward the signing of a free trade agreement with the member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“China and Japan have made considerable progress in their bids to establish trade pacts with ASEAN. South Korea will face growing difficulties if it remains isolated,” he explained.

Roh added that China has no problem in terms of competitiveness in the agricultural sector while Japan has virtually completed agricultural restructuring. “However, we have lagged behind them as we are in the process of farm reform.”

“Now we need to press for the FTA with ASEAN while speeding up efforts toward fundamental restructuring in the agricultural sector,” he said.

Touching upon domestic economic problems, Roh said his administration will focus on mid- and-long term measures to strengthen the fundamentals of the national economy rather than resorting to make-shift, pump-priming steps.

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