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S Korea-US FTA may encourage North Korea to choose non-nuclear path: paper

21 February 2007

S. Korea-U.S. FTA may encourage North Korea to choose non-nuclear path: paper

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) — A U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement (FTA) could show North Korea that economic liberalization would be a better guarantee of prosperity than nuclear brinkmanship, according to a paper re-issued by a conservative think tank on Tuesday.

Kim Holmes, vice president of the Heritage Foundation, recommended that while the Feb. 13 agreement on North Korea’s denuclearization needs further analysis, the U.S. should maintain pressure on Pyongyang.

South and North Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, the participants in the six-party talks, agreed on phased steps ultimately aimed at removing Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programs in exchange for wide-ranging assistance and diplomatic normalization.

The first step includes North Korea’s shutdown of its primary nuclear facilities in return for 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil.

Holmes, whose paper was presented previously at a Feb. 13 forum in Washington, said the U.N. sanctions resolution adopted in the wake of North Korea’s nuclear test should stay in force.

The U.S. should maintain and expand defenses against North Korea’s missiles and weapons of mass destruction and speak out more forcefully against Pyongyang’s human rights abuses, Holmes said.

"And we can sign a free trade agreement with South Korea," he said.

"This would show North Koreans that economic liberalization is a better path to prosperity than nuclear blackmail, statist policies, and isolation."

Seoul and Washington are negotiating the trade pact that would eliminate tariff- and non-tariff barriers for goods and services flowing between the two countries.

They hope to wrap up the talks by the end of next month.

 source: Yonhap