The Korean peninsula remains a potentially dangerous military hot-spot, but guarded optimism about North-South relations is warranted, four experts told an audience of 300 at the ARCO Forum last night.
Ashton Carter, the former assistant U.S. secretary of defense and a current professor at the Kennedy School of Government who moderated the "Korea: Prospects for Peace on the Peninsula" panel, opened with a reminder.
"There was no peace treaty ending the Korean War," he said.
"Nothing has changed very much in terms of confrontation," agreed Lee Hong-Koo, ambassador to the United States from South Korea. "People [are] talking about the post-Cold War era--[but] not on the Korean peninsula."
Still, the prospects for renewed dialogue "don't look that dim," said Stephen W. Bosworth, the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea.
Bosworth commended the "Sunshine Policy" of current South Korean President Kim Dae Jung.
That combination of economic engagement with North Korea and "zero tolerance of military provocation" from the communist country "makes a lot of sense," he said.
And an upcoming summit between the leaders of the North and South, originally called for in a 1994 treaty shouldn't hurt either, Hong-Koo said.
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