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. Skipping The Nuke Dance North Of The 38th Parallel Part One

What might have been.

AFP pool image of a moment now lost to time.

REPUBLIC OF KOREA, DORASAN : A South Korean boy and girl meet in front of an unbolted metal gate of the barbed-wire-topped border fense, which divides the Korean peninsula, in a symbol of inter-Korean peace at Dorasan Station, north of Seoul, 18 September, 2002. South and North Korea held ground-breaking ceremonies to rid landmines from the border for road and rail links.
by Ivan Zakharchenko
Moscow (UPI) Feb 7, 2008
U.S. President George W. Bush never missed a chance to lash out at North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Il, but he did not even mention North Korea in his latest State of the Union address.

There must be a reason for this. It is doubtful that the United States has suddenly forgotten all about Pyongyang. In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush included North Korea in the "axis of evil" and has since accused it of cheating and human rights violations. He also called it one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

But this time, the U.S. president did not say a word about it, though recently U.S. officials have criticized North Korea for not abiding by its nuclear disarmament commitments.

Analysts have different explanations for Bush's decision not to mention North Korea in his latest State of the Union address. Bush did not wish to irritate Pyongyang because his foreign policy is beset with problems and the use of force has not produced success. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime was overthrown in April 2003, but the war in Iraq is still going on and the end is nowhere in sight. The United States still has 160,000 soldiers there.

The recently disclosed U.S. intelligence information, or National Intelligence Estimate, proves the Islamic Republic of Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003, but the United States insists it is dangerous and it is necessary to adopt tough sanctions against it.

Since August 2003, diplomats from six countries -- Russia, the United States, China, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan -- conducted talks in Beijing to curtail North Korea's nuclear program. The talks are now suspended because North Korea wants the United States to fulfill its promise and exclude it from the category of countries supporting terrorism. The United States is reluctant to do this until North Korea abides by its commitment to provide information about all of its nuclear programs.

U.S. Department of State official Sung Kim recently started his Asian tour, including a visit to Pyongyang. He is supposed to settle U.S.-North Korean contradictions about nuclear disarmament commitments on the Korean peninsula. Under the circumstances, it would not be logical to irritate Pyongyang once again.

Also, Bush might have had a covert reason not to mention North Korea. He might have sent a signal not to North Korea but to the critics of his policy in the United States. His logic was that if you ignore a problem, it will go away.

(Next: The Lee Myung-bak factor)

(Ivan Zakharchenko is a political commentator for RIA Novosti. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

-- (United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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India will invite Western observers and diplomats to a major war games exercise near its border with rival Pakistan next month, officials said on Thursday.

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