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World > Asia > Korea, South > Foreign Relations (Notes)

Korea, South - Foreign Relations (Notes)


FOREIGN RELATIONS
In August 1991, South Korea joined the United Nations along with North Korea and is active in most UN specialized agencies and many international forums. The Republic of Korea also hosted major international events such as the 1988 Summer Olympics, the 2002 World Cup Soccer Tournament (co-hosted with Japan), and the 2002 Second Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies.

Economic considerations have a high priority in Korean foreign policy. The R.O.K. seeks to build on its economic accomplishments to increase its regional and global role. It is a founding member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and chaired the organization in 2005.

The Republic of Korea maintains diplomatic relations with more than 170 countries and a broad network of trading relationships. The United States and Korea are allied by the 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty. Korea and Japan coordinate closely on numerous issues. This includes consultations with the United States on North Korea policy.

Korean Peninsula: Reunification and Recent Developments
For almost 20 years after the 1950-53 Korean War, relations between North and South Korea were minimal and very strained. Official contact did not occur until 1971, beginning with Red Cross contacts and family reunification projects in 1985. In the early 1990s, relations between the two countries improved with the 1991 South-North Basic Agreement, which acknowledged that reunification was the goal of both governments, and the 1992 Joint Declaration of Denuclearization. However, divergent positions on the process of reunification and North Korean weapons programs, compounded by South Korea?s tumultuous domestic politics and the 1994 death of North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, contributed to a cycle of warming and cooling of relations.

Relations improved again following the 1997 election of Kim Dae-jung. His 'Sunshine Policy' of engagement with the D.P.R.K. set the stage for the historic June 2000 inter-Korean summit between President Kim and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. President Kim was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for the policy, but the prize was somewhat tarnished by revelations of a $500 million dollar 'payoff' to North Korea that immediately preceded the summit.

Relations again became tense following the October 2002 North Korean acknowledgement of a covert program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Following this acknowledgement, the United States, along with the People?s Republic of China, proposed multilateral talks among the concerned parties to deal with this issue. At the urging of China and its neighbors, the D.P.R.K. agreed to meet with China and the United States in April 2003. In August of that year, the D.P.R.K. agreed to attend Six-Party Talks aimed at ending the North?s pursuit of nuclear weapons that added the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Russia to the table. Two more rounds of Six-Party Talks between the United States, the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, and the D.P.R.K. were held in February and June of 2004. At the third round, the United States put forward a comprehensive proposal aimed at completely, verifiably, and irreversibly eliminating North Korea?s nuclear weapons programs.

A fourth round of talks was held in two sessions spanning a period of 20 days between July and September 2005. All parties agreed to a Joint Statement of Principles on September 19, 2005, in which, among other things, the D.P.R.K. committed to 'abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards.' The Joint Statement also committed the United States and other parties to certain actions as the D.P.R.K. denuclearized. The United States offered a security assurance, specifying that it had no nuclear weapons on R.O.K. territory and no intention to attack or invade the D.P.R.K. with nuclear or other weapons. Finally, the United States and D.P.R.K., as well as the D.P.R.K. and Japan, agreed to undertake steps to normalize relations, subject to their respective bilateral policies. On October 9, 2006, North Korea announced a successful nuclear test, verified by the United States on October 11. In response, the United Nations Security Council, citing Chapter VII of the UN Charter, unanimously adopted Resolution 1718, condemning North Korea?s action and imposing sanctions on certain luxury goods and trade of military units, weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related parts, and technology transfers.

The Six-Party Talks resumed in December 2006 after a 13-month hiatus. Following a bilateral meeting between the United States and D.P.R.K. in Berlin in January 2007, another round of Six-Party Talks was held in February 2007. On February 13, 2007, the parties reached an agreement on 'Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement' in which North Korea agreed to shut down and seal its Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility, and to invite back International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verification of these actions. The other five parties agreed to provide emergency energy assistance to North Korea in the amount of 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the initial phase (within 60 days) and the equivalent of up to 950,000 tons of HFO in the next phase of North Korea's denuclearization. The six parties also established five working groups to form specific plans for implementing the Joint Statement in the following areas: denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, normalization of D.P.R.K.-U.S. relations, normalization of D.P.R.K.-Japan relations, economic and energy cooperation, and a Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism. All parties agreed that the working groups would meet within 30 days of the agreement, which they did. The agreement also envisions the directly-related parties negotiating a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at an appropriate separate forum. As part of the initial actions, North Korea invited IAEA Director General ElBaradei to Pyongyang in early March for preliminary discussions on the return of the IAEA to the D.P.R.K.

The sixth round of Six-Party Talks took place on March 19-23, 2007. The parties reported on the first meetings of the five working groups. The talks recessed following the March round.

Under President Roh Moo-hyun, the R.O.K. has simultaneously sought the elimination of the D.P.R.K.?s nuclear weapons through the Six-Party Talks and pursued a policy of reconciliation known as the 'Peace and Prosperity Policy.' By engaging with the D.P.R.K. through projects such as the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the R.O.K. hopes to invigorate the North Korean economy and engineer a gradual, long-term unification process.


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Korean Won Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Korean Won Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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