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A good diplomatic start

May 16,2017
President Moon Jae-in plans to send five special emissaries to the United States, China, Japan, Russia and the European Union: Hong Seok-hyun, former chairman of the JoongAng Ilbo and its television network JTBC; former prime minister Lee Hae-chan; former Vice National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang; Song Young-gil, a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party and former mayor of Incheon; and Cho Yoon-je, a professor at the graduate school of international studies at Sogang University, respectively.

We welcome Moon’s decision as it may help resolve the deepening security crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Given their expertise and connections in the countries they are traveling to, they deserve the title special presidential envoy at a critical time like this.

Moon had telephone conversations last week with leaders of our four most important partners and the EU to explain the direction and vision of the new government’s diplomacy and North Korea’s ever-increasing nuclear threat. Moon’s dispatching of those envoys is a follow-up measure to help those heads of state understand the new administration’s resolve to address the crisis.

Moon’s special envoy diplomacy reflects his intention to take on a leadership role in solving the nuclear dilemma. His order to send a presidential emissary even to the EU and Germany heralds full-fledged, multiparty diplomacy down the road.

South Korea faces a grim reality. North Korea once again tested a mid-range ballistic missile as China was hosting its international One Belt and One Road forum — and only three days after the launch of a new South Korean government. The North’s nuclear weapons and missiles have become an immediate security threat to us as they go beyond mere bluff.

Under such circumstances, it is crucial that the new government change Pyongyang’s attitudes and bring it to the negotiation table through cooperation from allies. Whether it be sanctions and pressure or dialogue and collaboration, they are pivotal means to solve the nuclear conundrum as there is no practical means to find a breakthrough to the deadlock now.

The government needs to facilitate communication with relevant parties through diplomacy. It could offer a turning point to address the myriad of diplomatic conflicts, including friction over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system. We hope Moon’s diplomacy helps settle the deepening crisis.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 16, Page 30