- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2007

SEOUL — After a three-day summit, the leaders of the two Koreas wrapped up their meetings yesterday with a broad declaration that included plans for a peace treaty and a “peace zone” at the tense Yellow Sea border.

Allaying concerns about poor chemistry between the two leaders, the nine-point declaration signed by South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and Northern leader Kim Jong-il at 1 a.m. is wider-ranging and more pragmatic than anticipated, analysts said.

However, it is short on detail and contains no timetables or costs to be incurred by the South. To advance the agenda, the declaration includes provisions for a joint prime ministers meeting in Seoul next month.

Mr. Roh returned to a choreographed reception south of the demilitarized zone, where John Lennon’s “Imagine” was played and a children’s choir performed. He appeared delighted.

In a nationally televised address, Mr. Roh said of Mr. Kim: “To put it very simply, I could talk to him.”

As for the summit’s achievements, he urged Koreans: “Take a good look, and you will see I have come with a loaded bag, a big package.”

Given that he leaves office in February, the bulk of the implementation of Seoul’s side of the ambitious agreement will be left to Mr. Roh’s successor.

“I don’t want to set an additional burden to the next government,” he said, “but to facilitate future progress for the next government and North Korea.”

The declaration calls for the promotion of a meeting in Korea of “the three or four parties directly concerned” to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War. The 1953 armistice was signed by North Korea on behalf of itself and China and by the U.S. on behalf of South Korea.

President Bush has said any peace agreement is conditional upon Pyongyang’s denuclearization. Mr. Roh said he received “a very clear statement” from Mr. Kim that he would denuclearize.

In what Mr. Roh said was “the core point, the one critical point” of the summit, the declaration calls for a “peace and economic cooperation zone” at the Koreas’ maritime border in the Yellow Sea.

The Northern Limit Line (NLL) holds rich crab stocks, and was a site of naval clashes in 1999 and 2002. The plan includes a joint fishing zone, a maritime peace zone, the joint use of Haeju harbor and joint passage of the Han River estuary.

Haeju is a North Korean town and naval base just north of the NLL. The estuary of Seoul’s Han River is navigable only with special permission of the United Nations Command because of its proximity to North Korea. Mr. Roh said he expected synergies between Haeju and Kaesong in the North and Seoul’s nearby port of Inchon.

The declaration also calls for the connection of overland rail links to the Kaesong Industrial Zone just across the border in the North, and expansion of the zone, which Mr. Roh visited on his way home. In further economic cooperation, it calls for the construction of joint shipyards. South Korea, the world’s top shipbuilder, is operating at maximum capacity but fears lower-cost Chinese competitors.

In populist developments, Southern flights will travel to Mount Baekdu on the Korean-Chinese border, a sacred mountain for all Koreans. Meetings between divided families will be increased.

However, no progress was made in talks on Southern prisoners of war and abductees held by the North.

“Differences in perception exist between the two sides,” Mr. Roh said of that issue. “I was not able to reach an achievement on the level expected by the Korean public. I would like to apologize.”

Finally, the declaration says the “highest authorities” on both sides will meet more frequently.

Pundits were surprised by the declaration’s scope.

“The first summit was very political. This was a very realistic economic summit,” said Jeong Hyung-gon of the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy. “They have tried to resolve the barriers between the countries.”

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