Can Rice (and music) restart North Korea nuclear deal?
U.S. Secretary of State Rice visits Asia to boost the six-party deal, N.Y. Philharmonic plays in Pyongyang.
SEOUL, south korea
The Korean peninsula approaches a potential turning point this week, today with the inauguration of conservative former business leader Lee Myung Bak as president of South Korea and, tomorrow, the first-ever performance by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.Skip to next paragraph
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As the Bush administration moves into its final year, Ms. Rice may have few, if any, opportunities left to overcome stumbling blocks that have undermined the sense of progress engendered by the signing of the six-nation agreement a year ago.
After attending the inauguration here, Rice flies to Beijing and Tokyo. She will prod leaders in all three capitals to move swiftly to get North Korea to fulfill its promise to reveal all its nuclear activities, including its nuclear inventory and its dealings with countries such as Iran and Syria.
Despite North Korea's apparent foot-dragging, many analysts believe other parties' attitudes toward the North are changing. With increased regional interdependence, the South has pressed for reconciliation while engagement has replaced confrontation in US policy.
"The US-Korean relationship is founded on a set of assumptions based largely on the cold war," says Stephen Bosworth, a former US ambassador to Korea. "That changed profoundly. We must take into account new realities in Asia."
Mr. Bosworth, now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., cites "a set of connections on a regional basis," notably "economic interconnectedness," and also questions whether the US will need to keep troops permanently based in South Korea.
South Korea's attitude toward North Korea has softened as well. Far from viewing the North as a threat, Bosworth continues, the "predominant view" is that the North "is an object of charity."
More development, more demands
That outlook is likely to pervade the policy of Lee Myung Bak as he attempts to make good on campaign promises to triple the average income of North Koreans while also talking tougher than his predecessor, Roh Moo Hyun, whom he has criticized for demanding very little in return for aid provided the North.