Saturday, September 6, 2003

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Dagens Nyheter

Containing North Korea

STOCKHOLM — Despite continued North Korean threats, the reactions to last week’s meeting in Beijing were mainly positive. Assistant U.S. Secretary of State James Kelly talked about “a productive start.” That all six participating countries agreed on meeting again was seen as a step forward.

Evidently, the talks on North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons must continue. Pyongyang is a threat to peace that must be disarmed.

The question is, however, if the policy being pursued is the right policy. It has — to put it mildly — not resulted in anything. And the alternatives are few. The use of violence can trigger a major war, and economic sanctions have limited effect against a country that is already isolated and miserably poor.

Pyongyang must — besides disarm — continue to refrain from terrorism, return all kidnapped Japanese citizens, stop smuggling narcotics, and adopt the convention on chemical and biological weapons.

In return, the United States should give a binding promise about not being first to use nuclear weapons, remove North Korea from the list of states that support terrorism, and open diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

Asahi Shimbun

The United States and Iraq

TOKYO — We believe the time is right for the United States and Britain to recognize the failure of the occupation strategy to date, and speed up the process of forming a new government run by the Iraqis themselves. Hand in hand with this process, it will also be wise to fully reorganize the Iraqi police, military and other forces by and for Iraqis, in moving to restore order to the troubled country.

For its part, the U.S. government is taking an extremely cautious stand on the issue of transferring the authority for the governing of Iraq. We believe that the time is right to retool the occupation policy in a way that respects the aspirations of the Iraqi side.

Under our favored scenario, the United Nations would provide key support in creating the interim government and, once that administration is up and running, would become involved in the rebuilding of Iraq on a full-scale basis. Up until then, the U.S. and British forces should handle the job of restoring and maintaining security in the country. This, we feel, is an indisputable duty under the tenets of international law.

The Guardian

Aung San Suu Kyi’s plight

LONDON — There should be little doubt that the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi grows more desperate by the day. The only national leader in Burma worthy of the name has been held under some form of detention for more than half the 13 years since her National League for Democracy’s landslide election victory was annulled. … There is no doubt about Mrs. Suu Kyi’s courage. But the strain on her must be close to insupportable. The U.S. government reported at the weekend that she has begun a hunger strike. Its expression of “deep concern for her safety and well-being” is well-founded.

Many hundreds, perhaps thousands of pro-democracy activists also languish in Burma’s gulag. They must not be forgotten, either, no more than must the ordinary Burmese whose lives are blighted by avoidable poverty and repression. But it is Mrs. Suu Kyi who has become a unique symbol of her benighted country’s struggle for justice. The junta’s denial of the hunger strike report, like its disingenuous plan for a “road map to democracy,” should be dismissed with contempt. The new prime minister who peddles this deception, Khin Nyunt, is just another jumped-up general who has never fought a battle in his life but is a veritable Napoleon when it comes to oppressing defenseless civilians. Tougher U.S. sanctions came into effect last week; U.K. campaigners’ efforts to cut Western business, investment and tourism links are gaining ground. But how long before Burma’s neighbors show similar determination to end this regional disgrace and, perhaps, save Mrs. Suu Kyi?

Frankfurter Rundschau

Sinking of a Russian submarine

FRANKFURT, Germany — [President Vladimir] Putin reacted faster than he did almost exactly three years ago when the nuclear submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea.

But the accident, with nine deaths, shows that the heirs of the glorious Soviet fleet have not learned very much.

The K-159, a nuclear submarine from the 50-year-old November class, had been lying rusting for decades at the Gremikha naval base. The death trap was not seaworthy. …

Three years ago, the death of 118 sailors wasn’t reason enough for Mr. Putin to break off his vacation. This time, he is seeing through his state visit to Italy. Mr. Putin is staying true to himself.

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