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North 'Must Reciprocate' to Keep Reconciliation on Track

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

TOKYO, Sept. 22, 2000 – North Korea must reciprocate by lessening tensions if it wishes the continuation of South Korean economic aid, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said here.

Cohen said North Korea could jeopardize its growing rapprochement with South Korea if gives nothing in return.

"[The negotiations] cannot be a one-way street," Cohen said during a Sept. 22 press conference at the U.S. Embassy here. "The North cannot take the position that the only basis for discussions is whether economic aid continues to flow north so it can rebuild its economy without some corresponding reductions in military tensions."

If the North does not make corresponding reductions, South Korea, the United States and Japan might find themselves in the position of subsidizing the North's military build-up, he said. "That is not a situation that's desirable or achievable," Cohen said.

"Reciprocity is the key," he said. The United States believes South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's engagement policy is the correct one to follow, but understands the North Koreans have to show that they are prepared to reduce tensions.

"That means they will have to find some confidence-building measures that they will take with their South Korean counterparts to reduce those military tensions, if there is going to be a peaceful reunification," Cohen said.

Meetings scheduled soon between the South Korean and North Korean defense ministers may lead to some of these confidence- building measures. Among those Cohen suggested were the North stepping back from its forward-deployed status, eliminating weapons of mass destruction, setting up hot lines and formulating a process for notifications of training exercises.

"But these are things the North and South must agree to themselves," he said.

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