As this year’s annual joint US ROK war games dubbed ‘Ulchi Freedom Guardian’ proceed, a different scenario is being played out between the US and DPRK.
Alert eyes noticed a ‘filler’ on the news wires that North Korea signaled that it was willing to aid a US team to reclaim and repatriate remains of fallen GI’s during the active phase of the Korean War 60 years ago.
This bit of news was a sure fire indication that the two day meeting in New York of North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs and negotiator with American diplomats on the DPRK’s nuclear programme had borne fruit.
The two days of discussions seemingly didn’t break new ground other than each side exposing its positions, yet they did proved enough for a gentler diplomatic wind to begin thawing out the frost between the two countries.
The US holds dear the return of the remains of its soldiers fallen in its foreign wars. North Korea’s offer is not the first of its kind, and repatriation of remains since, say, the Clinton administration. Its significance is an example of yet another confidence building measure to lighten tensions.
The Obama administration, which has kept the pressure on the DPRK, has responded by offering us$900 million in much needed food aid, supplies which it stopped since 2008, in coordination with the hard line South Korea president Lee Myung bak’s policy to ‘teach North Korea a lesson’, and as a stern school master, punishing his rival Kim Jong il to such a degree that would roll back the authoritarian regime in the North to the point of collapse.
In spite of the military bluster and braggadocio of ‘Ulchi Freedom Guardian’ and the risk of exchange of live fire between the two Koreas [remember the riposte of the North to the South’s shells landing in North Korean territorial waters in November 2010!], the US has had momentary wake up call that diplomacy should take the lead in dealing with North Korea.
Will there be further advances in warming the Arctic winds of US policy towards North