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Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 10:21 GMT
Seoul's fears over Bush
Presidents Kim Dae-jung and George W Bush
Mr Bush expressed support for Mr Kim's 'sunshine policy'
By Seoul correspondent Caroline Gluck

South Korea has given a positive assessment of President Kim Dae-jung's meeting with US counterpart George W Bush in Washington.

The talks were seen as reinforcing the traditionally close relationship between the two allies, with the US and South Korean leaders pledging to maintain their close co-operation.


I do have some scepticism about the leader of North Korea

President Bush
But many are privately concerned as to how the more hardline response in the US may affect South Korea's policy of engagement with the North.

Some worry that it might act as a brake on Seoul's rapprochement policies, which are aimed at working for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Political analysts have noted that domestic support for President Kim's administration is waning and that critics of his "sunshine policy" have stressed the need for more reciprocity in dealing with North Korea.

Others believe that a more critical US stand may spur Seoul to prove its critics wrong.

Pressure


The US does have doubts and suspicions about North Korea, but the basic stance is that it will support South Korea's policy of engagement

South Korean presidential spokesman Park Joon-young
The government is pushing ahead with another round of high level ministerial talks with the North next week, which is likely to discuss a planned visit to Seoul by North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il.

Seoul is hoping that that may result in a peace accord, but will also have to show that any agreement will be strong on substance as well as symbolism.

There is also more pressure on the North to demonstrate that it is serious about wanting to reform by its willingness to undertake confidence building measures to ease military tensions.

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See also:

08 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Bush rules out North Korea talks
13 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim Dae-jung: Korean peacemaker
22 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea threatens end to missile deal
17 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
S Korea extends missile range
15 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Summer months melt Korean ice
23 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Pyongyang reaches out
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