Tags: Both | Koreas | Stage | Rallies | Against | Bush

Both Koreas Stage Rallies Against Bush

Tuesday, 05 February 2002 12:00 AM

Bush named North Korea, Iran and Iraq "an axis of evil" that is "arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction" in his State of the Union speech last week.

In South Korea, civic groups launched rallies Tuesday to attack Bush's words, saying his tough policy toward North Korea would undermine fledgling reconciliation efforts between the two currently separated Koreas.

Labor activists, who gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in central Seoul, called for Bush to withdraw the remark.

"Bush has virtually declared 2002 as the war year, and his blind and intense antagonism toward North Korea, Iran and Iraq is a great threat to world peace," activists from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions said in a statement.

The Council for the National Reconciliation, Sovereignty and Unification also started a two-week-long rally in front of the U.S. Embassy to protest Bush's visit to Seoul. The U.S. leader is scheduled to make his first visit to South Korea Feb. 19-21.

Reformist lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties also joined the protests, arguing that Bush's unilateral North Korea policy hurts peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

"U.S. harsh rhetoric against the North jeopardizes the framework of reconciliation and cooperation between the two Koreas by throwing cold water on inter-Korean detente," lawmakers from the ruling Millennium Democratic Party said in a press conference. Bush's hard-line stance also rolls back progress made between North Korea and the U.S. during the Clinton administration and creates tensions on the Korean peninsula, lawmakers said.

"We are concerned about Bush's tendency to flex military muscle while defining inter-Korean relations unilaterally without prior consultations and coordination with the South Korean government," the lawmakers said, adding that issues on the Korean peninsula must be resolved between South and North Korea.

South Korea is home to 37,000 American troops stationed as a deterrent against North Korea, which is on the U.S. list of countries that sponsor terrorism. The peninsula still technically remains in a state of war. The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a fragile armistice, and the border is the world's last Cold War frontier, with nearly 2 million troops on both sides.

Communist North Korea also has stepped up anti-American propaganda campaigns, while calling for South Koreans to stage nationwide anti-American rallies. Leaders there insist the United States is hindering a inter-Korean thaw by trying to establish "military domination" in the world.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il led the campaign, speaking out against Washington. He indicated his country would continue to build up its army.

"No force on earth can overpower these great forces firmly determined not to allow any aggressors to dare invade the inviolable territory of our country," the state-run press quoted Kim as saying during his recent visit to an army unit.

The (North) Korean Central Broadcasting Station said that more North Korean citizens have joined ideological indoctrination programs against the United States. It accused the Bush administration of trying to stifle the communist country, warning it was "ready to fight a war with the Americans.

"If any enemy comes to attack the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea, its army will not allow him to go back alive," state-run media said.

Inter-Korea relations, which flourished after a 2000 summit between their leaders, came to a halt in March last year when Bush vowed to take a harder stance against North Korea.

Bush offered to resume talks in June last year, urging the north to reduce its conventional forces and halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction. But North Korea has rejected Washington's calls, claiming it could become the next target of the U.S.-led war against terrorism.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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Bush named North Korea, Iran and Iraq an axis of evil that is arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction in his State of the Union speech last week. In South Korea, civic groups launched rallies Tuesday to attack Bush's words, saying his tough policy toward...
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Tuesday, 05 February 2002 12:00 AM
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