What I reported two days ago about the White House asking Congress to remove North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terror list was confirmed a few moments ago by President Bush.
In a Rose Garden statement, President Bush also suspended sanctions on North Korea that are tied to the “Trading with Enemies Act”.
This is huge news — and is a giant step in putting US-North Korea relations on a new and more constructive track. This is a success for the Bush administration — and more importantly for Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian & Pacfic Affairs Christopher Hill who has been a punching bag for former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton who has been spitting on Hill’s deal-making for the last year.
There are still a lot of questions ranging from the interesting issue of North Korea cooperation with Syria’s alleged nuclear facility that was destroyed by Israel and other issues — but when President Bush gave Colin Powell the positive nod in the first week of April 2003 to proceed with the Six Party Talks, Bush and Cheney ignored Iran’s offer of a structure for normalized US-Iran relations the very same week in 2003.
The contrast in circumstances between where America is today with North Korea and where we are with Iran is vital to note. We ‘engaged’ North Korea and blew it with Iran.
Congrats to Christopher Hill, John Negroponte, Condoleezza Rice, the former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns and his successor William Burns. And for those who want to knock China around, they should know that this entire process was impossible without China’s impressive, collaborative diplomacy.
Barack Obama’s inclination towards engagement with problematic leaders around the world now is now buttressed by an experience of the George W. Bush administration. Too bad so much of the rest of America’s foreign policy portfolio didn’t get this same kind of attention.
– Steve Clemons