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Public Library Publications Annual Security Outlook 2003 Republic of Korea


The Situation in the Asia-Pacific Region After Iraq War

Changes in the Security Environment

While the end of Iraq war has brought overall changes in the international security situation, the future course of the North Korean nuclear issue and the direction of the counter-terrorism campaigns in the region will mark :an important turning point for the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region in the 21st century.

Other international and regional issues including human rights, maritime security, environment protection, and transnational crimes still remain as a matter of concern. There has been much progress achieved through international cooperation. These issues have the potential to affect regional security environment, and, therefore, individual countries and regional institutions have to continue their efforts to prevent negative outcomes.

Remaining Instability in Regional Security

The continued increase in defense spending and arms buildup in the region could be another potential factor for instability. It has been highlighted that the region should increase the efforts to enhance transparency in defense spending and to step up military confidence building among regional countries. Increased exchanges of defense officials, naval vessel visits, joint military exercises and dispatch of observers have been witnessed in the region.

An inter-governmental security dialogue mechanism at the sub-regional level will be helpful in promoting confidence building and preventing conflicts through multilateral consultations and exchanges of views, which would help to secure lasting peace and security in the region.

Promoting Regional Cooperation

In the Asia-Pacific region, regional and inter-regional cooperation are fully under way through various regional organizations including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC). Exchanges and cooperation are taking place in the political and security areas as can be seen in ASEAN+3 and ASEAN+1 Meetings, and also in the economic and trade areas through the conclusion of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) between countries in the ASEAN region and non- ASEAN countries in the region.

Deepening globalization, however, is bringing in its wake negative side effects such as the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the digital divide, a rise in transnational crimes such as the drug trade, human trafficking, and illegal immigration, as well as the rapid spread of infectious diseases such as SARS. Now more than ever, there is a demand for international cooperation and joint efforts to meet these challenges.

Countering a Stagnating World Economy and the Negative Effects of SARS

Slowdown in the world economy continues despite the end of the Iraq war. With inflationary pressures lowered, the possibility of world deflation is emerging. Major economies such as the US, Japan and the EU are also experiencing economic slowdown, recording low or negative growth, which serves as yet another factor for instability in international security.

In particular, in the Asia-Pacific region, exchanges of people and consumer spending have dropped and the tourism industry has been hard hit by the threat of terrorism and the impact of SARS epidemic. These factors serve to increase the danger of deflation, and there will continue to be a need for efforts and cooperation within the region to tackle them.

Regional Situations

The Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia

The international order in Northeast Asia still displays the duality of both the remnants of the Cold War structure and the Post-Cold War change. With the looming unpredictability from the North Korea nuclear problem, a fragile stability persists.

The ROK government has emphasized that the North Korean nuclear issue is a problem of grave concern to all the Korean people and the international community as a whole that should promptly be resolved in a peaceful manner.

There were various international efforts to reach a peaceful resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue, although significant progress has yet to be seen. The ROK recognizes the Trilateral Meeting among the People's Republic of China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States, held in Beijing on 23~35 April 2003, as a meaningful start towards a peaceful resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue. The ROK welcomes the efforts made by China, and looks forward to' its continued role in the peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. The ROK further believes that the momentum of dialogue should be sustained and developed.

On President Roh Moo-hyun's recent visits to the US and Japan to meet with President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi respectively, the leaders shared the view that the North Korean nuclear program is not acceptable, whilst also expressing their strong commitment to the peaceful resolution of its nuclear issue. They urged North Korea not to take any measures that may aggravate the situation.

Taking account of the international nature of the North Korean nuclear issue, the ROK will also maintain close cooperation .with China, Russia, the EU, and all other countries concerned.

With a view to reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and promoting a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue, inter-Korean dialogues and cooperation have continued. Both Koreas have kept holding inter-Korean dialogues including the Ministerial Talks and Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee Meetings and conducted reunions of separated family members. The ROK expects that continued progress in inter-Korean relations will be conducive to the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Post-War Iraq

There is a need for close cooperation in the international community to quickly put an end to the hardships being suffered by the Iraqi people in the aftennath of the war.

The ROK is providing Iraq with humanitarian assistance and reconstruction support and will continue to extend full support for projects for the reconstruction of Iraq together with international community. The ROK will provide needed assistance to the country through international organizations such as the U.N. and NGOs, and will also encourage the civil society in Korea to increase their activities of relief assistance.

In that connection, the ROK welcomes the adoption of UNSC Resolution 1483 on May 22, 2003. The ROK believes that the adoption of the Resolution has provided an opportunity to overcome the tensions caused by the Iraq war and to lay a groundwork for cooperation for the rehabilitation of Iraq.

India-Pakistan Relations

The ROK welcomes the recent measures taken by India and Pakistan to improve their bilateral relations, and hopes that these steps will generate momentum to secure peace and stability between India and Pakistan and indeed in Southwest Asia as a whole. 

In particular, the ROK welcomes the mood of reconciliation that is fonning behveen India and Pakistan as seen with the determination of both countries to restore ambassador-level diplomatic relations with the nomination of ambassadors last May, and the decision to resume bus and civil airline services across bordering regions.

The Situation in Indonesia (Aceh)

The ROK has a deep concern over the resumption of armed conflict in Aceh following the breakdown of negotiations in Tokyo in May.

The ROK government hopes that both the government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) will exercise the utmost restraint so that this issue will be resolved peacefully as soon as possible by observing the "Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA)" signed in December 2002. While the ROK supports Indonesia's territorial integrity, the ROK hopes that all parties exert all efforts to restore the Aceh peace process.

The Situation in East Timor

The ROK commends the effort of East Timor to accede to international organizations including the UN and to establish diplomatic relations with all ASEAN members since May 2002.

The ROK has contributed to the maintenance of public order through the initial dispatch of a total of 440 troops as a part of peace-keeping operations. Since last May, 250 troops have remained and continue their peace-keeping mission.

Korea hopes that the international community will continue its support to help East Timor to achieve solid political, economic and social development.

The Situation in Myanmar

The ROK expresses concern over the placing of Aung San Suu Kyi and senior members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) into protective custody and the closing of the NLD headquarters.

The ROK hopes that Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members be released as soon as possible and that the NLD be reinstated promptly.

The ROK hopes that the Myanmar government will make greater efforts to promote national reconciliation and democracy through dialogue with various political groups.

South China Sea

The ROK has supported all the diplomatic efforts to reach a peaceful settlement of the territorial disputes over the South China Sea and hopes that the parties concerned will be able to fmd a peaceful settlement to the disputes through dialogue.

In particular, the ROK has supported the "ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea" adopted at the 1992 ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, and welcomes the "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea" adopted between China and ASEAN during the ASEAN+ 3 Summit in November 2002.

The Outlook for Inter-Korean Relations

The Policy for Peace and Prosperity

The Policy for Peace and Prosperity was initiated from President Roh Moo-hyun's strategic vision. It aims to lay the foundation for the peaceful unification of Korea through the promotion of peace on the Korean Peninsula and to achieve mutual prosperity for South and North Korea.

Furthermore, it will expand and develop the policy for reconciliation and cooperation pursued by the previous government into a more comprehensive policy for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia.

Outlook for Advances in Inter-Korean Relations

On the basis of the Policy for Peace and Prosperity, the ROK intends to continue its efforts for reconciliation and cooperation between the North and the South. The ROK hopes that North Korea will take a positive attitude correspondingly to the efforts of South Korea. The ROK underlines that a solid inter-Korean relation can only be achieved through mutual respect and trust.

The ROK appreciates all the efforts made by the ARF to promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and looks forward to the ARF members continuing their constructive role to this end. END.

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