05 October 2007

Korean Endgame

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, left, toasts with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il after declaring a joint reconciliation pact [Credit: Spiegel Online]Someone contacted me via Facebook to ask what I make of the South Koreans having talks with North Korea. As often, the IHT provides an excellent analysis:

The urgency from the North Korean perspective today derives from an understanding that America's presidential alternation often wipes out diplomatic momentum, and indeed, where the last two changes in Washington were concerned, wiped the policy slate clean toward Pyongyang altogether, requiring long, costly efforts to get going again.

Kim Jong Il, who is widely believed to have serious health concerns, and also appears to be preoccupied with engineering his own dynastic succession, likely feels that now is the best time to strike a deal that would end the state of war, win badly needed economic assistance, establish diplomatic guarantees for his regime and help ensure its survival.
Clearly, there is still a long road ahead for the peninsula but, 54 years after the end of the Korean War, we can but pray that the nuclear regime gets the help that it so urgently needs from the outside.