- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2001

'Stuck in the past'
The U.S. ambassador to South Korea is growing frustrated at the stubbornness of Stalinist North Korea, which refuses to join the anti-terrorism coalition or reopen talks with Washington.
Ambassador Thomas C. Hubbard said the United States is "disappointed and baffled" by the positions taken by the North Korean regime, according to an interview published yesterday in the Korea Times, an English-language South Korean newspaper.
"This has been a moment in history where a lot of nations have joined together to deal with a problem that affects all of us," he said, referring to the war on terrorism.
"It has taken old alliances in different directions and has offered new opportunities with countries like Russia, China and Pakistan to develop new kinds of relations."
North Korea, however, "seems to be to a large degree still stuck in the past," he said.
"I think they are missing an opportunity by not choosing to move forward at this time. This is a moment that they might seize upon to accept our invitation for dialogue and move forward with the South on some of the issues they have been discussing," he said.
"Instead, we see this impasse."
Mr. Hubbard also expressed regret at the North's failure to resume talks with the United States, which offered in June to reinitiate contacts that were suspended for a policy review.
"I don't understand why the North Koreans have not been interested in beginning a dialogue with the Bush administration," he said.
Meanwhile, North Korea announced the appointment of Vice Foreign Minister Park Kil Yon as its ambassador to the United Nations. Mr. Park is considered an expert on the United States.
Because North Korea has no diplomatic relations with the United States, it uses the U.N. post for contacts with Washington.

Russian relations
Russia and NATO are developing closer relations as they face common threats, the U.S. ambassador to Russia said yesterday.
In a news conference in Moscow, Ambassador Alexander Vershbow also said he hopes Russia and the United States will bridge differences over the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and President Bush's plans to build a national missile defense, the Associated Press reported.
"The members of NATO and Russia are increasingly allied or acting as allies against terrorism and other new threats," he said.
He referred to last week's summit between Mr. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin as an example of the developing relationship.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also announced that NATO Secretary-General George Robertson will begin a three-day tour of Russia tomorrow.
"The central place at the talks will be taken up by the question of giving a new character to relations between Russia and NATO that would deepen cooperation in the struggle against terrorism and response to new challenges," the ministry said in a statement.
Mr. Vershbow, addressing the missile issue, said, "We, for our part, are committed to continuing to work on a new strategic framework for the future, whether or not we find a compromise on the short-term question of testing under the ABM Treaty.
"Missile defense could be an area for close U.S.-Russian collaboration since both of us face and will face these new threats in the future."

Hong Kong's future
Hong Kong is gratified that the State Department continues to recognize its economy as one of the freest in the world, four years after its return to communist China, says Jacqueline Willis, Hong Kong's representative in the United States.
Writing in the latest edition of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office's newsletter, Miss Willis also praised the State Department's 2001 report on Hong Kong for recognizing that China's promise of a "high degree of autonomy in economic and non-economic matters has proved to be a reality."
Congress ordered that the State Department prepare an annual report on Hong Kong each year from 1992 to 2000, and the department went further by adding the 2001 report.
Miss Willis said, "It is gratifying that the report recognizes that Hong Kong remains one of the freest cities in Asia and one of the world's most open and dynamic economies.
"Let me assure you we intend to keep it that way."


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