NAPSNet Daily Report 26 February, 2003

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 26 February, 2003", NAPSNet Daily Report, February 26, 2003, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-26-february-2003/

 
CONTENTS

I. United States

1. Powell Asia Trip
2. DPRK on US War
3. ROK New Prime Minister
4. ROK Subway Arson Attack
5. US DPRK Humanitarian Aid
6. DPRK US Air Space Intrusion
7. DPRK Chemical Weapons
8. PRC Domestic Terrorism?
9. PRC-Russia DPRK Talks
10. US on PRC-Russia Iraq Resolution Status
11. Japan on DPRK Missile Test
12. Japan on Cost of Iraq War
II. Republic of Korea 1. New ROK Presidency Begins
4. Development of Gaeseong Complex in DPRK
6. Food Aid to DPRK from US and Australia
III. Japan 1. DPRK’s Fired Ground-to-Ship Missile
2. Japan-ROK Relations
3. US-DPRK Relations Kyodo
4. Japan-DPRK Relations

I. United States

1. Powell Asia Trip

The Washington Post (Doug Struck, “POWELL MAKES FEW GAINS ON ASIA TOUR SECRETARY UNABLE TO WIN PLEDGES OF SUPPORT ON NORTH KOREA, IRAQ,” Seoul, 2/26/03) reported that US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell ended a four-day Asia trip today having made little public progress in his efforts to rally support for US strategy on the DPRK and Iraq. Powell reported that he sowed goodwill and smoothed out some discord in the relationship with the new ROK president, Roh Moo Hyun. But he failed to win any visible pledges of support in the ROK, the PRC or Japan for US moves toward an invasion of Iraq or its hard line against the DPRK’s nuclear program. Powell “was walking gingerly, aware of the sensitivity and tensions” in ROK, at Roh’s swearing-in and his other stops, said Lee Jung Hoon, a political scientist at Yonsei University in Seoul. “He didn’t want to come here on inauguration day of the new government and say something inflammatory. He wanted to be low-key.” It was Powell’s first trip to the region since the standoff with the DPRK began in October, and he raced through three countries in four days. On the flight back to the US, Powell told reporters that a reactor and a plutonium reprocessing plant at Yongbyon, the DPRK’s main known nuclear facility, had not been restarted. “I think that’s a wise choice if it’s a conscious choice,” Powell said.

2. DPRK on US War

The Associated Press (Sang-Huh Choe, “NORTH KOREA WARNS OF POSSIBLE US ATTACK,” Seoul, 2/26/03) and BBC News (“NORTH KOREAN WRATH AT WAR GAMES,” 2/26/03) reported that the DPRK has followed up a surprise missile launch with a belligerent warning for its citizens to be ready for war at any time. The fresh rhetoric came a day after the DPRK fired a missile into the sea between Japan and the Korean peninsula, just before the inauguration of the ROK’s new president. The DPRK’s statement, issued by the country’s official news agency, said that forthcoming military exercises in the ROK involving US troops could herald an attack. “The US can launch a pre-emptive attack on us at any time,” said the statement, which was also read out on DPRK radio. “This requires our military and people to mobilise all our resources to be fully ready for any contingencies.”

3. ROK New Prime Minister

BBC News (“NEW PM FOR SOUTH KOREA,” 2/26/03) reported that the ROK’s parliament has approved Goh Kun, a former Seoul mayor, as prime minister. Goh, who earned the nickname of Clean for his campaign to wipe out corruption, was nominated by President Roh Moo-hyun, who took office on Tuesday. President Roh had earlier appealed to the National Assembly to speedily sanction his choice after the opposition delayed, insisting on first voting for an inquiry into a political scandal. That vote paved the way for an independent counsel to probe allegations that the DPRK was secretly given hundreds of millions of dollars in the run-up to an historic inter-Korean summit in 2000. The National Assembly, which is dominated by the opposition, eventually approved the 56-year-old Goh’s appointment by 163-81 votes. Goh has served as prime minister before, in 1997-98, under President Kim Young-sam. He is known to be a reformist, like Roh. But there are fears that the opposition Grand National Party may still stifle the new president’s ambitious agenda. The GNP holds a majority in the chamber, with 151 seats out of 272.

4. ROK Subway Arson Attack

The Associated Press (Sang-Huh Choe, “SOUTH KOREA SUBWAY FIRE DEATH TOLL HITS 189,” Seoul, 2/26/03) reported that ROK authorities raised the death toll from last week’s subway fire to 189 on Wednesday after forensic experts found 56 more sets of remains in the debris of the two scorched trains. Most of the newly discovered bodies were so heavily burned and disintegrated as to make immediate identification impossible, said Choi Chong-hoon, an official at the Central Disaster Center. He put the new death toll at 189, up from a previous estimate of 133. More than 300 people are still listed as missing, but officials said that the number was greatly inflated by double reporting and confusion over the identities of the dead. The missing likely include remains of those that have been found but not identified. Relatives of the victims and those missing were infuriated after forensic experts found four pieces of scorched human remains in bags of garbage collected from the subway station. All-news cable channel YTN showed a blackened human hand found in a garbage bag. “How can things like this happen?” the victims’ families said in a statement. “This shows that authorities hurried to clean up the subway station, paying little attention to our agony.” They demanded that Daegu mayor Cho Hae-nyong resign to take responsibility for the lapse. Kim Dae-han, 56, a mentally ill man who allegedly started the fire by igniting a carton filled with gasoline, faces a charge of manslaughter and could be executed if found guilty. Six subway officials face charges of negligent manslaughter, which carries a maximum of five years in prison.

5. US DPRK Humanitarian Aid

The New York Times (James Dao, “US TO RESUME FOOD AID TO NORTH KOREA, AT A REDUCED LEVEL,” Seoul, 2/26/03) reported that the US State Department announced today that it would resume shipments of food aid to the DPRK, ending a two-month hiatus, but that it intended to cut donations this year by 35 to 75 percent from last year’s totals. Despite the cut, the announcement was clearly intended as a conciliatory gesture toward the new ROK president, Roh Moo Hyun, who was inaugurated this morning in a ceremony attended by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Richard A. Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said the US would deliver at least 40,000 metric tons of food to the DPRK this year and was prepared to increase that amount by a further 60,000 tons. Last year the US contribution to the DPRK food aid administered by the United Nations was 157,000 metric tons, more than half of the program’s total. State Department officials said the reduction in aid this year was largely a result of two factors: the DPRK, despite a continuing famine, needs less aid this year, while demands for US assistance, particularly in Africa, have risen sharply. But the department has also complained that the DPRK might be diverting food aid from starving civilians to Communist Party officials and soldiers. Powell and other American officials suggested today that the size of this year’s food aid package would depend on whether the DPRK allowed better monitoring of aid distribution. “We will watch carefully” how the first shipment of 40,000 tons is distributed, Powell stated.

6. DPRK US Air Space Intrusion

The Associated Press (“REPORT: NORTH KOREA ACCUSES WASHINGTON OF ANOTHER AERIAL INTRUSION,” Seoul, 2/26/03) reported that the DPRK accused a US spy plane of intruding into its territory Wednesday and warned it “will take stern self-defense measures.” The allegation came just hours after the DPRK urged its armed forces to be ready for war. The Korean Central News Agency said the RC-135 strategic reconnaissance plane was sent to its territory on Wednesday, according to Yonhap news agency. “This is an outrageous violation on our republic’s sovereign rights and a clear violation of international laws,” the North Korean media said, according to Yonhap. “We warn that we will take stern self-defense measures.” On Tuesday, KCNA said the same plane entered its territory on Monday, accusing the US of trying to “find an opportunity to mount a pre-emptive attack on the DPRK.” The US military has said it does not respond to such reports from the DPRK.

7. DPRK Chemical Weapons

The Associated Press (Hans Greimel, “OVERSHADOWED BY NUKES, CHEMICAL WEAPONS ALSO POSE THREAT TO US TROOPS IN SOUTH KOREA,” Jeongok, South Korea, 2/26/03) carried an analytical story that reported stripping to their skivvies on an icy river bank, the shivering US soldiers peeled off their gas masks with abandon – somberly steeling themselves for a day none hoped would come. “That’s possibly the scariest thing that people fear, chemical weapons,” US Army Cpt. William Vickery said as his decontamination troops ran through an attack simulation within artillery range of chemically armed DPRK. The DPRK’s stockpile of chemical weapons, believed to be as much as 5,000 tons, is overshadowed by mounting worries about nuclear weapons. But Wednesday’s chemical attack drill highlights the reality that soldiers on the divided Korean Peninsula already contend with a more immediate menace from weapons of mass destruction. “I hope they realize that threat is real,” Vickery said. “We know it’s there.” Underlining the peril, the 37,000 US troops in the ROK began receiving next-generation chemical suits last month. Called JSLISTs, for Joint Service Light Weight Integrated Suit Technology, they are lighter than the old suits, and their hoods can be tucked over a person’s head faster, in about 9 seconds. They also have a life span of about 24 hours in a chemical environment, much longer than six-hour duration of the old version. In theory, each soldier is supposed to be issued three suits. Yet for the Eighth US Army alone, only 50,000 new suits have arrived so far – not enough even to drill with. Soldiers were practicing with old suits Wednesday. Information on the DPRK’s chemical weapons programs is scarce, but the ROK Defense Ministry estimates Pyongyang increased its stockpiles fivefold over the 1990s to 5,000 tons. The arsenal is believed to include some of the deadliest chemical weapons known – mustard gas, tabun and sarin – all of which can be fired atop the DPRK’s ballistic missiles or rained down on Seoul, in artillery shells.

8. PRC Domestic Terrorism?

The Washington Post (John Pomfret “BOMBS EXPLODE AT 2 PROMINENT BEIJING UNIVERSITIES,” Beijing, 2/26/03) reported that two homemade bombs ripped through cafeterias at the PRC’s two most famous universities at lunchtime today, leaving nine injured and shattering a long-held sense that campus life in this country is immune from violent attack. Fashioned from what police called “homemade charcoal gunpowder,” the first bomb exploded at 11:55 a.m. during the lunch rush at Tsinghua University. Flying glass injured five professors and a student. About 90 minutes later, a second blast blew out dining hall windows and a door at Beijing University, injuring three. The PRC’s state-run media issued brief reports on the explosions. Hundreds of policemen descended on the leafy campuses, cordoning off the sites and forbidding PRC journalists to provide information to foreign media outlets. Police fanned out across the city tonight, stopping cars at random and checking identification. No group immediately asserted responsibility for the bombings, which came a day after a visit to Beijing by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and a week before the PRC’s legislature opens its annual session.

9. PRC-Russia DPRK Talks

The Associated Press (“RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BEIJING FOR TALKS ON IRAQ, NORTH KOREA,” Beijing, 2/26/03) reported that Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov arrived in Beijing Wednesday for talks with PRC officials on Iraq and the DPRK’s nuclear program, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Ivanov plans meetings with Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and top PRC leaders starting early Thursday morning, Xinhua said. “The two sides are expected to exchange views on China-Russia relations, the Iraq issue, the North Korean nuclear issue and other issues of common concern,” Xinhua said in a brief dispatched announcing Ivanov’s arrival. The PRC and Russia have urged continued weapons inspections in Iraq. Both say they see no current need for a new U.N. Security Council resolution that could pave the way for a US-led attack on Iraq over its refusal to give up its weapons of mass destruction.

10. US on PRC-Russia Iraq Resolution Status

Reuters (Richard Balmforth and Andrew Cawthorne, “US DOUBTS RUSSIA, CHINA WILL VETO IRAQ RESOLUTION,” Moscow/London, 2/26/03) reported that the US said on Wednesday it doubted either Russia or the PRC would veto a new U.N. Security Council resolution designed to pave the way for war on Iraq. The comments, made by a senior US administration official speaking on condition of anonymity, seemed to improve prospects for the resolution, although questions remained over the nine council votes it needs to pass and a possible French veto. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, faced potentially the biggest revolt yet within his ruling Labor Party in a parliamentary vote on his stance on Iraq expected later Wednesday. Blair is hoping to head off the rebellion by presenting a motion which does not mention the possibility of war but asks instead for backing for the U.N. route to disarmament of Iraq. He is betting that political and public opinion will rally round if a second resolution is passed by the 15-member Security Council, of which only four so far have pledged to vote for it. The resolution circulated at the United Nations this week by the US, Britain and Spain says Baghdad has missed a “final opportunity” to disarm peacefully.

11. Japan on DPRK Missile Test

The LA Times (Mark Magnier, “LAXITY ABOUT KOREAN MISSILE UPSETS JAPANESE,” Tokyo, 2/26/03) reported that news that defense agencies failed to warn premier or Cabinet of the DPRK’s planned test points to weakness in government system. The Japanese government found itself looking a bit red-faced Tuesday after the revelation that defense agencies knew about a surface-to-ship missile launch by the DPRK on Monday but failed to inform the prime minister or the Cabinet until the following day. Although the launch of what ROKdefense analysts said was a PRC-made Silkworm missile with a range of about 50 miles turned out to be relatively benign — aimed more at gaining global attention than at hitting any particular target, analysts said — it underscored anew Japan’s poor emergency response system. There was some disagreement over the type of missile fired. “Japan has a very weak sense of crises,” said Zenji Katagata, president of System Research Center, a crisis management firm. “They assume North Korea is still crying wolf…. Anything could happen, and this could have turned into a real catastrophe.” A defense spokesman said Tuesday that this time, midlevel analysts within his agency didn’t believe the information was important enough to report to senior officials. “They judged it wasn’t of interest to the director or the Cabinet,” said Ichiro Imaizumi, declining to comment further. A Japanese coast guard spokeswoman said her agency learned of the launch only by reading a Japanese news report Tuesday. And the offices of the prime minister and Foreign Ministry said they were briefed only by “a section that handles information” Tuesday morning, or about 16 hours after the launch.

12. Japan on Cost of Iraq War

The Japan Times (“JAPAN WON’T PAY FOR IRAQ WAR: LDP EXEC,” 2/26/03) reported that a top executive of the Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of Japan shouldering the financial cost of a possible US-led war against Iraq as it did in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The executive also said the US understands Japan’s stance and will not ask for financial assistance. “We haven’t received any request (for financial help) and neither will we,” said the LDP lawmaker, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity. He did not elaborate on the reasons. But unlike at the time of the Gulf War, the Japanese government is now saddled with huge debts amid the deep-seated economic slump, and public polls have shown a majority of the public is opposed to a war without United Nations authorization. During the 1991 war, Japan responded to a request by the US by offering $13 billion after failing to make any physical contribution to the US-led multinational operations, such as dispatching personnel for logistic support. The effort was criticized as “checkbook diplomacy,” which sparked internal policy debates over what role Japan should play in times of international military crises. “We won’t shoulder war costs. Our effort was not appreciated much in the time of the Gulf War, (and we) faced criticism that we only offered money,” said a senior Foreign Ministry official. “Instead, we would offer (postwar) reconstruction aid.”

II. Republic of Korea

1. New ROK Presidency Begins

Joongang Ilbo (Choi Hoon, “KOREA’S 16TH PRESIDENCY BEGINS,” Seoul, 02/26/03) reported that Roh Moo-hyun was inaugurated Tuesday as ROK’s president with the National Assembly building as a backdrop. “Reform is a driving force behind growth, and integration is a stepping stone for a takeoff,” President Roh said in his inaugural address to an audience of 45,000 persons. He promised to pursue democracy, build a society of balanced development and open an era of peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia based on reform and national unity. The new president stressed that a structure of peace must be erected on the Korean Peninsula in order to begin a genuine “age of Northeast Asia.” The peninsula “has to be reborn as East Asia’s gateway of peace that connects the Eurasian landmass with the Pacific Ocean.” Mr. Roh called DPRK’s nuclear weapons program a “grave threat” to world peace. “We will strengthen coordination with the United States and Japan to help resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue,” said Mr. Roh. “We will also maintain close cooperation with the PRC, Russia, the European Union and other countries.” He also promised to make the ROK-US alliance a more reciprocal and equitable relationship. The new president promised to eliminate irregularities and corruption not only for sustained growth of the economy but also for the health of society. 2. DPRK’s Internet Propaganda

Joongang Ilbo (“NORTH TURNS TO INTERNET TO GET ITS MESSAGE OUT,” Seoul, 02/26/03) reported that DPRK has an active Internet propaganda program directed at ROK, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a report Tuesday. DPRK is turning to the Internet to escape legal restrictions on such propaganda here, the report said. The report was the first since April 2000 on DPRK’s propaganda activities. DPRK operates Web sites that carry full versions of reports and editorials and is aimed at ROK youth, the paper said. The most frequent themes are calls for the withdrawal of the US military from ROK to allow reunification, justifications of its nuclear program and calls to scrap the National Security Law. The joint chiefs also said there has been a sharp increase in the number of loudspeakers north of the Demilitarized Zone that broadcast propaganda messages. 3. DPRK’s Missile Fire

Chosun Ilbo (Yoo Yong-won, “NORTH FIRES SURFACE TO SHIP MISSILE,” Seoul, 02/26/03) reported that Ministry of National Defense Spokesman Hwang Young-soo announced Tuesday that DPRK fired a surface to surface missile from a coastal base at South Hamkyong Province into the sea 60km away on Monday afternoon. Hwang said analysts were working to see if this was part of an exercise, or a test of missile capability. A source said the missile was a short-range tactical weapon such as the Chinese made ‘Silkworm.’ He continued that the firing was most likely part of annual training that takes place from December to April. An analyst noted that as the test came following the intrusion of a MiG-19 on February 20, and its threat to abrogate the Armistice Agreement on the 17th the test could be a flexing of military might. However, others point out that DPRK gave advanced notification to Japan.

4. Development of Gaeseong Complex in DPRK

Joongang Ilbo (Jung Chang-hyun, “NORTH LAYS OUT PLANS FOR GAESEONG COMPLEX, NEW CITY,” Seoul, 02/26/03) reported that DPRK Tuesday presented a blueprint of the Gaeseong industrial complex. Lee Jong-hyeok, deputy chair of DPRK’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, said DPRK will build a new satellite city to support the Gaeseong industrial complex, which was agreed to in a recent inter-Korean agreement that paved the way for easier cross-border commerce. Representatives of The ROK companies involved in the project, such as Hyundai Asan Corp. and Korea Land Corp., would be able to travel to Gaeseong to work on the complex. The satellite city will house more than 200,000 residents in a 2,000-hectare (5,000-acre) area, Mr. Lee said. He said a power plant will be built near the complex by Hyundai Asan. Water for industrial use at the complex will be drawn from either the Imjin River, which is 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Gaeseong, or the Yeseong River, which is 20 kilometers north of the city. Mr. Lee said DPRK plans to create an organization to oversee the development of the complex. The organization would be composed of economic development officials from the National Planning Commission and DPRK’s parliament. 5. Powell and ROK New President Talks

Chosun Ilbo (Shin Jong-rok, “POWELL PLEDGES CONTINUED US PRESENCE,” Seoul, 02/26/03) reported that new Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman Song Kyung-hee said Tuesday that US Secretary of State Colin Powell told President Roh Moo-hyun the US Forces Korea would remain committed to the defense of the peninsula. Song continued Secretary Powell said any changes would be made in consultation with ROK, as the USFK’s mission was to maintain peace in region as a whole. President Roh told Powell that people and investors were worried about any change in the status of the USFK, irrespective of how reasonable this might be due to situational developments. He noted that the Korean people and he himself admire the US. Song said Powell repeated that the US was not going to attack DPRK, and wanted a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue through dialogue. She noted the secretary pointed out US was well aware of the effects of a war on ROK and would be in constant contact. In a news conference later, Powell said he told Roh the US has no intention to attack Pyongyang, but was keeping all options open. He added that he had delivered an invitation from President George W. Bush for Roh to visit the US, which the latter accepted, saying he would go as soon as working level meetings were finished.

6. Food Aid to DPRK from US and Australia

Chosun Ilbo (Kwon Kyung-bok, “US TO SEND 100,000 TONS OF AID TO NK,” Seoul, 02/26/03) reported that US Secretary of State Colin Powell stated Tuesday that the US plans to send a total of 100,000 tons of food aid to DPRK; 40,000 tons in an initial shipment and 60,000 tons later. The Bush administration sent 197,000 tons of food to DPRK in 2001, and 155,000 tons in 2002. Powell’s policy statement differs with that of President Roh, which is to dismiss everything regarding military action. In related news Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer announced Tuesday that his country will supply Aus$3 million worth (W2.1 billion) of wheat to the World Food Program (WFP). Downer had visited ROK to attend President Roh’s inauguration ceremony and stated that the wheat sent to the WFP will be made into nutritious biscuits and other food for children. Australia has supplied Aus$39 million worth of food to DPRK since 1996.

III. Japan

1. DPRK’s Fired Ground-to-Ship Missile

Kyodo (“N KOREA FIRED GROUND TO SHIP MISSILE MON.,” Seoul, 02/25/03) reported that the ROK Defense Ministry said Tuesday that DPRK launched a ground-to-ship missile on Monday. The ministry said it is still looking into the details to determine if it was a test-firing of a new weapon or part of regular winter drills by DPRK’s army, while it is gathering information on the kind of weapon, its trajectory and the locations of launch and impact. The missile appeared to have been fired from South Hamyong Province, eastern DPRK, and fallen into the Sea of Japan, about 60 kilometers from the launch site, the JoongAng Ilbo said. According to the Japanese Defense Agency, the missile is believed to be a 2.3-ton Silkworm, with a range of about 100 km, developed by the former Soviet Union and produced in PRC. Speaking to reporters in Seoul, US Secretary of State Colin Powell called the launch “fairly innocuous” and “not surprising” as DPRK had given advance notice to shipping of a possible test in the region some days ago. In Washington, the US State Department on Monday night confirmed DPRK launched a short-range, tactical missile. “We are very aware of the situation,” a State Department official told Kyodo News. “These events, as you know, happen periodically,” he said. In Tokyo on Tuesday, Taku Yamasaki, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said DPRK launched the missile in a northeastern direction, away from Japan. Sources suggested the North tried to fire a missile earlier Monday, but failed, and then carried out the successful launch later in the day. They said the North may try another launch Wednesday. Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said the firing would not be considered a violation of a joint declaration signed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and DPRK leader Kim Jong Il last year if the missile was a ground-to-ship weapon as reported. In the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, where No. 2 DPRK leader Kim Yong Nam was attending the Non-Aligned Movement summit (NAM), an unnamed DPRK official was nonchalant about the missile launch, telling Kyodo News, “What big incident? Everybody has missiles.” But Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, also at the NAM summit, said the firing will “complicate” efforts to bring DPRK and the US to the negotiating table over the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program.

2. Japan-ROK Relations

Kyodo (Kakumi Kobayashi, “KOIZUMI, ROH TO WORK CLOSELY WITH US ON N KOREA,”02/25/03) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Tuesday he and new ROK President Roh Moo Hyun agreed that tension stemming from the four-month standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development program has intensified to a serious level and reaffirmed a resolve to settle the issue peacefully working in tandem with the US. “We confirmed that we will make efforts and cooperate with each other to settle the (nuclear) issue in a political and peaceful manner,” the premier told reporters at a Seoul hotel after the meeting, held after Roh’s presidential inauguration. On bilateral relations, the two leaders recognized the unfortunate past without touching upon specific issues, such as Koizumi’s controversial visits to a Shinto shrine associated with Japan’s militaristic past, and agreed to build a “future-oriented” relationship based on the correct perception of history, Japanese officials said. In the 50-minute summit at the Blue House presidential office, the first for Roh with a foreign leader, the two leaders also agreed to realize a visit by Roh to Japan at an early date, they said. Koizumi and Roh, however, did not cover some pressing issues such as the Iraq crisis as well as reports that Pyongyang fired a missile into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan on Monday just hours before Roh was sworn in, according to the officials. Koizumi and Roh shared the view that the North Korean missile standoff is a “serious” problem and confirmed the importance of continuing trilateral coordination with the US, the officials said. “We also agreed to deal with any provocative (actions) by DPRK in a calm and cautious manner,” Koizumi said. Koizumi also said he emphasized in the meeting the importance of urging DPRK to give up its nuclear development program and understand the importance of becoming a responsible member of the international community. Roh, on his part, expressed his intention to play an active role in handling the DPRK standoff over its suspected nuclear weapons program, saying ROK is prepared to contribute actively to efforts to resolve the impasse in a peaceful and diplomatic manner, according to the officials. The Japanese premier told Roh he hopes Japan and DPRK will be able to normalize diplomatic ties by resolving security problems such as the abduction of Japanese nationals and the nuclear and missile issues, and bring safety to the Northeast Asian region. Regarding former ROK President Kim Dae Jung’s policy of engaging DPRK in dialogue, Roh said he will continue along a similar line, according to the officials. Roh announced in his presidential inauguration speech a dialogue-oriented approach for DPRK, dubbed the “policy for peace and prosperity” on the Korean Peninsula. The leaders also agreed to step up talks for a possible bilateral free-trade agreement and reinforce bilateral exchanges in broad areas, according to the Japanese officials.

3. US-DPRK Relations

Kyodo (Cho Kyung Wook, “US PLEDGES AID TO N KOREA, DOWNPLAYS MISSILE LAUNCH, ” Seoul, 02/25/03) reported that US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday the United States intends to offer up to 100,000 tons in food assistance for DPRK this year, while he dismissed the North’s firing of a missile as “fairly innocuous.” Powell said Washington will provide an initial donation of 40,000 tons of food and is prepared to contribute as much as 60,000 tons more in response to an emergency plea by the World Food Program (WFP). “We will begin with an initial shipment of 40,000 tons of food for the people of North Korea. We’re looking at another 60,000 tons more,” he said. “We will be working with international donor community to ensure that the needy people receive food intended for them.” Powell made the remarks at a press conference after talks with ROK President Roh Moo Hyun following Roh’s inauguration as president.

4. Japan-DPRK Relations

The Asahi Shinbun (“KOIUZMI IN SEOUL TO PATCH UP ALLIANCE,” Seoul, 02/25/03) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi arrived in Seoul on Monday to strengthen the rickety tripartite alliance set up to quell the saber rattling from Pyongyang. The prime minister is expected to discuss the alliance between Japan, the US and ROK with the new ROK president, Roh Moo Hyun. Koizumi will meet Roh for the first time after attending Roh’s inauguration ceremony scheduled to start at 11 a.m. today. While Koizumi seeks the diplomatic normalization with DPRK, he said there were no prospects for resuming normalization talks soon. As for whether to continue the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) projects, designed to prevent DPRK from obtaining weapons-grade nuclear material, Koizumi stressed that the issue should be discussed intensely by the nations involved.

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