Yonhap: US Considers More Cultural Exchange with North Korea
Though the New York Philharmonic has yet to play its first note in Pyongyang, the State Department is already dreaming up new ways to increase cultural exchanges with the North. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, Alexander Arvizu said as much during a talk sponsored by the South Korean Embassy. Reports South Korea’s Yonhap news agency:
The exchanges, like the New York Philharmonic’s performance in Pyongyang later this month, are “precisely the kinds of activities that can promote a better awareness on the part of North Korea’s leaders” and to introduce North Korean people to the outside world.
The diplomat assured his audience that State would not overlook the North’s recent failures to live up to its end of the October 3rd Agreement:
“We are trying to look forward. We want to move forward…But in order to do that, there has to be a certain understanding about the present, as well as what has happened in the recent past,”
He also indirectly asked for more patience with the current process:
I think it’s way premature to talk about altering the course and doing something different”
Meanwhile, on the North-South cooperation front, officials met to discuss repairs on the Pyongyang-Kaesong highway, also known as the “reunification highway.” Though, the Korea Times doubts the project has much of a future as Lee Myung Bak will call for greater reciprocity in North-South relations before any large-scale inter-Korean projects are undertaken.
All this, despite the fact that Pyongyang has yet to provide a full inventory of its nuclear program.
The other side of the story is brought to us by Michael Green, a Georgetown University scholar who served as top Asia expert in the White House during earlier stages in the North Korea negotiations. Green warned about being too lenient with the North, and giving up too much too quickly. Said Green:
[A] pattern of U.S. concessions toward North Korea “creates, intended or not, the impression that we are willing to do whatever we have to do to keep the process going.”
Green also noted:
“With North Korea, delays are inevitable, but the delays have not been met with any consequences, which is increasingly going to be a problem,”