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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; February 22, 2010

Published: Mon 22 Feb 2010 07:54 AM
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TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; FEBRUARY 22, 2010
TOP HEADLINES
-------------
Chosun Ilbo
Correspondent in Afghanistan: Even the Dirt Houses are Dilapidated;
Kabul Is an Exhibition of "War Tragedy"
JoongAng Ilbo
POSTECH to Invest 50 Billion Won
to Scout 10 Nobel Prize Laureates
Dong-a Ilbo, Segye Ilbo, All TVs
Lee Jung-su Wins Second Gold in Short Track
Hankook Ilbo
Two Years after Launch of Lee Myung-bak Administration, 56 Percent
of Lawmakers and Professors Surveyed Raise Need
to Reform Government Organizations
Hankyoreh Shinmun
With 100 Days to Go before June 2 Local Elections, Political Parties
Gearing up for a Showdown that is Widely Considered a Yardstick for
2012 Presidential Election
Seoul Shinmun
June 2 Local Elections Overshadowed
by Sejong City Dispute and Public Apathy
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
----------------------
According to an (ROK) Defense Ministry official, the ROK and the
U.S. plan to conclude bilateral talks this year on the possible
overseas redeployment of USFK. (JoongAng)
Michael Schiffer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian
and Pacific Security Affairs, said that he is confident that the
transfer of wartime operational control from the U.S. to the ROK
will occur in 2012. (Dong-a)
According to a recent opinion survey by the Korea Institute for
National Unification, 56 percent of ROK citizens have a negative
view of North Korea. This is the first time since 1998 that a
majority has viewed the North unfavorably. In addition, 87 percent
of respondents favored another inter-Korean summit. (Chosun, Dong-a,
Hankyoreh, Segye, Seoul)
INTERNATIONAL NEWS
------------------
According to diplomatic sources, the U.S. has been delaying issuing
a visa for North Korea's Chief Nuclear Negotiator Kim Kye-gwan for
the third consecutive week; Kim was invited by a U.S. academic
organization late last month to attend a seminar slated to be held
in New York in March. (JoongAng)
According to the Kyodo News Agency, Stephen Bosworth, Special
Representative for North Korea Policy, is considering visiting China
next month to discuss the resumption of the Six-Party Talks with
Chinese officials. (JoongAng, Segye)
MEDIA ANALYSIS
--------------
-N. Korea
----------
All ROK media on Saturday carried reports quoting a military
official as saying that North Korea has reinforced its artillery
capacity along its disputed Yellow Sea border with the ROK by adding
dozens of 240-mm multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) with a maximum
SEOUL 00000271 002 OF 006
range of 60km. According to media reports, this is the first time
that the North has deployed MRLs near the disputed sea border.
The ROK media also reported that North Korea designated eight "naval
firing zones" in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea. It is the
fourth time that the North has declared such zones since Jan. 25.
Conservative Chosun Ilbo quoted military authorities as saying
yesterday: "As of Feb. 21, there is no unusual military activity
detected in the North."
Citing diplomatic sources, right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo today
carried an inside-page report that the U.S. has been delaying
issuing a visa for the North's Chief Nuclear Negotiator Kim Kye-gwan
for the third consecutive week. According to the report, Kim was
invited by a U.S. academic organization late last month to attend a
seminar slated to be held in New York March 3 - 4. The report
quoted a source as saying: "The U.S. position is that the chief
North Korean negotiator's visit to the U.S. should be (for) a
government-level contact between the two countries. (His visit)
will be possible only if the North makes clear its willingness to
return to the Six-Party Talks."
JoongAng and conservative Segye Ilbo replayed a Feb. 20 report by
the Kyodo News Agency that Stephen Bosworth, Special Representative
for North Korea Policy, is considering visiting China next month to
discuss resuming the Six-Party Talks with Chinese officials. The
report quoted a source in the U.S. as saying: "Even if Bosworth
visits China, chances are slim that the U.S. may agree to further
inducements to draw the North back to the Six-Party Talks."
FEATURES
U.S. "CONFIDENT OF 2012 TRANSFER OF WARTIME OPERATIONAL CONTROL"
(Dong-a Ilbo, February 22, 2010, Front Page)
By Washington Correspondent Ha Tae-won
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Schiffer
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia and Pacific
Affairs Michael Schiffer said on February 19 in reference to the
transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON), "We are in
continuous discussion about strengthening the ROK's military
strength for the wartime OPCON transfer, and as of now, (we) are
confident of the 2012 transfer of wartime operational control."
As to the ROK's possible participation in the U.S.-led Ballistic
Missile Defense (BMD) plan, Schiffer noted, "It has long been
discussed between both authorities, and cooperation is now ongoing,"
stressing, "Given North Korea's missile threat, the BMD plan is
absolutely needed in this region."
During a February 19 exclusive interview with Dong-a Ilbo, which was
held in his office on the fifth floor of the Pentagon in Washington,
Deputy Assistant Secretary Schiffer stated, "It is an important
asset of the alliance to know what (missile defense) capability the
ROK wants to develop and the specifics of the plan."
The Deputy Assistant Secretary, who is in charge of Korean Peninsula
affairs at the Pentagon, said of the North Korean threat, "Although
the U.S. is not within striking distances of North Korea's
short-range or mid-range missiles, we consider those missiles, too,
as a threat to the U.S."
MOST S. KOREANS FEEL THREATENED BY THE NORTH
(Chosun Ilbo, February 22, Page 2)
By Reporter Lee Yong-su
Some 56 percent of South Koreans have a negative view of North Korea
and 70 percent feel threatened by the North's nuclear arms, a poll
SEOUL 00000271 003 OF 006
suggests. But 87 percent support holding another inter-Korean
summit.
The Korea Institute for National Unification polled 1,000 people.
Of the 56.4 percent who had a negative view of the North, 43.8
percent saw the North as dangerous and 12.6 percent as an enemy.
Of the 38.3 percent of respondents who saw the North positively,
22.5 percent said the ROK should cooperate with (the North) and 15.8
percent said it deserves support.
It was the first time since 1998 that a majority (of South Koreans)
had a negative view of North Korea.
"The percentage of people with a negative view of the North in the
latest poll is now as high as before the Sunshine Policy," said Choi
Jin-wook, a senior researcher at KINU. "It seems that the poll
reflects how people were affected" by the North's second nuclear
test, long-range rocket launch, and an inter-Korean skirmish in the
West Sea last year.
Some 90.8 percent of respondents said there is a "slim" chance that
the North will abandon its nuclear weapons.
Some 53.1 percent believe that there has been no big progress in
inter-Korean relations while 15.8 percent said that relations had
deteriorated. Some 51.5 percent hold the North responsible for the
worsening relations.
A vast majority, or 80.3 percent, of respondents approved of the ROK
demand to investigate the fatal shooting of an ROK tourist at Mt.
Kumgang resort in July 2008 and to require an assurance that (North
Korea will prevent) similar incidents as preconditions for resuming
package tours to Mt. Kumgang.
But more than half or 51.4 percent called for dialogue with the
North.
The poll was conducted by Millward Brown Media Research for KINU on
Nov. 9-30 last year.
(This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.)
CORRESPONDENT IN AFGHANISTAN: EVEN THE DIRT HOUSES ARE DILAPIDATED;
KABUL IS AN EXHIBITION OF "WAR TRAGEDY"
(Chosun Ilbo, February 22, 2010, Front Page)
By Correspondent Lee Ha-won from Bagram Airbase in Kabul
Afghanistan is tired of its three-decade-long war. Since the Soviet
Union's invasion in 1979, Afghanistan has been involved in a civil
war for a long time and then at war with the Taliban, seeing its
territory, about three times as large as the Korean Peninsula,
devastated.
As the first Korean reporter participating in the U.S. military's
"Embed Program," I left the Afghan capital Kabul for the U.S. Bagram
Air Base on February 20. Earth houses along the streets were mostly
dilapidated. About an hour later, when our vehicle stopped for a
while, a man in his twenties quickly came up to us out of nowhere.
At that moment, my hair bristled up at the thought, "Am I going to
die in a terrorist bombing attack?" My heart inside the 10-kilogram
body armor almost seemed to stop. While passing by the front of the
car, the man continuously stared at me. Although a bomb did not go
off, I could not let my guard down thinking that a bomb attack will
take place without any warning.
Wherever our vehicle stopped on its way, children with dirty faces
ran toward us. Six- and seven-year-old children, much younger than
my son, reached out their rough hands for money. There was a look
of appeal in their eyes.
SEOUL 00000271 004 OF 006
All over Kabul, a war-ravaged city which I looked around a day
earlier, bombed-out remnants of buildings were seen. Local
residents' earth houses looked as if they would collapse at any
moment. U.S. and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force)
Commander General Stanley McChrystal, who had an exclusive interview
with me at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul on February 20, showed
great resolve.
He stressed, "The war in Afghanistan is neither the U.S.'s war nor
France's war nor Korea's war. It is a war for the sake of the
Afghan people," adding that he felt grateful to the ROK for its
decision to dispatch troops despite security concerns.
The Bagram Air Base, about 60 kilometers north of Kabul, reminded me
of a large construction site. Huge construction vehicles appeared
to outnumber tanks and military aircraft. At the base, where tens
of thousands of people are stationed, all vehicles and soldiers were
covered with dust.
When I arrived at Bagram media center, a U.S. soldier handed me a
9-page pledge. A "release from liability" form caught my
attention.
"I recognize and agree that covering combat and military operations
can be dangerous and may cost me my life." I was hesitant for a
moment but, after a deep breath, I signed it.
This soldier said, "You will stay at "Hotel California." I followed
him, saying to myself, "There is a hotel in U.S. bases even at times
of a war." However, I found a wooden prefabricated barrack with (a
sheet of) paper written "Hotel California" flying in the wind. I
was assigned to a room called Sacramento, California State's
capital. I will stay here for a week and report on Bagram.
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: "AFGHANS WANT TALIBAN TO BE DEFEATED... MOSHTARAK
OPERATION IS SUCCESSFUL"
(Chosun Ilbo, February 22, Page 3)
By Washington Correspondent Lee Ha-won
"The Afghan war is not a war of the U.S., France or the ROK. This
war is for the Afghans. The U.S. needed (international) help during
the war of independence and the ROK did during the Korean War. As
we needed outside help then, Afghanistan does now. "
In an exclusive interview with Chosun Ilbo on February 19, Gen.
McChrystal, the U.S. top commander in Afghanistan and the commander
of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) stressed the
need for international assistance to Afghanistan. During a meeting
at Gen. McChrystal's office in Kabul, the commander showed his
confidence in the Afghan War by saying that, at a recent
international conference on Afghanistan held in London, all of the
(conference participants) reaffirmed their joint commitment (to
Afghanistan). Regarding the Marjah offensive which recently
started in southern Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal said, "Even though
we lost (some of) our soldiers and local residents suffered damage,
this operation is being carried out in an extraordinary and smooth
way, causing relatively small damage."
Q. What is the implication of the Marjah offensive which began
February 13?
This operation is not limited to the Marjah region. It is being
staged across Helmand province, the southern part of Afghanistan.
Over the past two years, this area has been beset by insecurity.
Our aim is to get the Afghans out of the Taliban's control. Local
residents want to be liberated from the Taliban.
Q. What is your assessment of (the U.S.'s) operation so far?
The operation has been very successful and is still under way. We
have to be cautious in making assessments. Strategically, it is
important to demonstrate to the international community that
SEOUL 00000271 005 OF 006
Afghanistan itself is cable of guiding, steering and leading this
operation.
Q. The "Moshtarak" strategy involving two marine soldiers and one
Afghan security force member- which means "together" in Dari- is
gaining attention.
"We have strived to establish a strategy that involves Afghan
security forces and allied forces. We live together, fight together
and share responsibilities. Not only U.S. forces but also British
forces and Danish forces are cooperating with the Afghan security
forces."
Q. Some analysts think that the U.S.'s strategy for the Taliban has
changed. If the Taliban changes its position, is the U.S. willing
to cooperate with it?
"This is what the Afghan government and people should decide. We
just provide security assistance to Afghanistan. Afghan President
Hamid Karzai delivered a clear message that if the Taliban seeks to
live under the Afghan constitution, it must not resort to any
violence, and this will lead (the Taliban) to live peacefully
together with the Afghans. "
Q. When will the additional 30,000 U.S. soldiers President Barack
Obama promised to send be completely dispatched?
"They will be sent by this summer. Two units are already engaging in
the Marjah offensive. A total of 38,000 U.S. soldiers will be
deployed. The allied forces also pledged to send 8000 soldiers. "
Q. How do you define "victory" in the Afghan war?
"When the Afghan people (can) make free choices for their own
future, we (will) consider it a victory. It is when they freely
decide their government, engage in economic activities, and are
equipped with self-defense capabilities."
Q. What is the most important (factor in defining "victory"?)
"Above all, public order and security should be ensured. After
that, they can decide their own future. The government's control
should be strengthened. Control at regional levels nationwide
should also be firm. Corruption should be eliminated, and civil
servants should do their work."
Q. President Obama said in his State of the Union Address, "In
Afghanistan, we're increasing our troops and training Afghan
security forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011."
Will it be possible?
"We think that it is possible. During his inauguration last year,
Afghanistan President Karzai also expressed a desire to establish
public security as early as possible. The Afghan government is
already taking the lead in that work. We will also actively support
it."
Q. There is some criticism that the U.S. is still failing to win the
heart of local residents. Do you agree with it?
"It is not a matter of whether I agree or not. In order to deal
with insurgents in a war situation, we should understand each other.
The allied forces should understand Afghanistan's culture and
language among other things. This is a war for the Afghan people,
not a war hostile to them."
Q. In the ROK, there is still lingering anxiety over the war in
Afghanistan. Some people say, "Why does the ROK support a U.S.
war?"
"This war does not carry only one meaning. This is a global war on
terrorism represented by the September 11 attacks. We stand against
al-Qaida's international terrorism based on fundamentalism. In
another sense, this is a war for the sake of the Afghan people.
SEOUL 00000271 006 OF 006
They need help. At present, 44 countries are providing
assistance."
Q. In 2007, two Koreans were killed in Afghanistan by the Taliban.
Because of that, the ROK is still reluctant to send its troops to
Afghanistan.
"I do not think that Koreans' concerns are wrong. That kind of
response is natural. The possibility of danger exists. However, we
cannot prevent all danger. This is why we think that it is selfless
of the ROK to return to Afghanistan and show its determination to
help the Afghan people. So far, we have seen the ROK's selfless
activities many times, and we are grateful for the ROK's decision
(to dispatch troops.)"
STEPHENS
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