Contrast Between Two Koreas 'Profound,' Rumsfeld Says
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
SINGAPORE, June 4, 2005 The difference between freedom and tyranny is more vivid on the Korean peninsula than in any other place on Earth, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.
In his keynote speech at the Asia Security Conference, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue and sponsored here by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Rumsfeld said the United States has urged North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks over the country's proliferation ambitions.
Rumsfeld said the differences between North and South Korea are "profound."
South Korea, with its thriving economy and open political system, "is an example of the dynamism of free people and free markets," Rumsfeld said in his speech. "Whereas, in North Korea, children and grandchildren of dissidents are forced into labor, refugees who escape are kidnapped from foreign countries, and ... starving citizens search barren fields for individual grains."
The main goal of such regimes is simply keeping themselves in power. "They don't get up in the morning worrying about their people," he said in response to a question. "They worry about maintaining power."
North Korea's claim to have nuclear weapons and its withdrawal from the Six-Party Talks have destabilized the region, the secretary said. "Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions threaten the security of the region, and because of their record of proliferation, it threatens the world," Rumsfeld said. President Bush and the other four leaders have urged the regime to return to the Six-Party Talks.
To date, three rounds of the talks -- among the United States, China, Japan, Russia and both Koreas -- have been held to try to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. The talks have been stalled since North Korea announced in February that it had manufactured nuclear weapons and would not participate in the talks for an indefinite period.
The North Korean government has signaled that it would prefer to deal directly with the United States, but U.S. officials have maintained the threat North Korea poses is a regional problem and that the country's Asian neighbors must be part of any solution.
In answer to a question after his speech, Rumsfeld expressed the hope efforts to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table would succeed. "My hope is that the countries in the Six-Party Talks will continue to try to be more persuasive ... with (the North Koreans) and they will see it in their interest to enter those discussions," he said.