Sat, 22 Feb 2003

Mega to push for dialog on Korean issue

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Kuala Lumpur

Indonesia insisted on Friday that North Korea resume dialogs with the United States and South Korea in a bid to end the nuclear stalemate on the Korean Peninsula.

Indonesian foreign minister Hassan Wirayuda, on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia said the forum would be a good opportunity for Jakarta and Pyongyang to talk.

"We have the situation worsening on the Korean peninsula with the U.S. pressing for a settlement through the United Nations Security Council, while Pyongyang is insisting on bilateral dialog," Hassan said.

"We expect there will be more creative measures that could help the two sides end the feud."

Indonesia, Hassan said, hoped the Korean issue would not increase tension in the world following the crisis in Iraq. The U.S. has accused both Baghdad and Pyongyang of possessing weapons of mass destruction.

"We are concerned more about the Korean problem, as we are talking about nuclear and not biological or chemical weapons as it is in Iraq," Hassan said.

Indonesia has taken the leading role among Asian countries in finding a peaceful solution to the Korean issue, with President Megawati Soekarnoputri once serving as a peace messenger between Seoul to Pyongyang during her visit to both countries in March last year.

Both North and South Korea have close relations with Indonesia. Seoul is the second largest investor in Indonesia, while Pyongyang has strong traditional ties with Jakarta since the visit of founding president Sukarno, Megawati's father, to the communist country in 1964.

Megawati had offered to facilitate a dialog between the two Koreas through her special envoy Nana Sutresna, who visited the countries early this month. However, no official response has been given by either country.

On the sidelines of the NAM summit, which will start on Monday, Megawati is slated to hold bilateral talks with a North Korean delegation on Sunday, upon her arrival here.

"At the meeting the President hopes to hear the response from North Korea regarding our offer and to hear the latest developments on the peninsula," Hassan said.

The minister underlined that Jakarta opposed production of weapons of mass destruction anywhere in the world, moreover in Asia.

"We have it very clear that we are against production of any weapons of mass destruction for whatever reasons," Hassan said.

Megawati will leave Jakarta on Saturday to attend the NAM summit. The President will stay overnight in Singapore for personal reasons before continuing the journey to Kuala Lumpur.

Upon arrival on Sunday, she is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with, among others, with the North Korean delegation, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad and South African President Thabo Mbeki.

She is also slated to attend a NAM business forum and meet the Indonesian community here on Sunday.

The President's husband, Taufik Kiemas, will join the entourage here on Sunday directly from Jakarta.

On the Iraq issue, Hassan reiterated that it was the moral obligation of the 114 NAM member countries to support the antiwar stance and push Iraq to disarm itself according to the UN resolution No. 1441.

"We should consider that NAM stance as an interaction and concerted effort of the world, including France, Germany and Russia to stop Washington's war plan."

He acknowledged that NAM consisted of developing countries with troubles of their own at home, but as concerted efforts of the world it would show Washington that it could not invade Iraq without the world's support.