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Regional Overview

Jul — Sep 2002
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Regime Change / Preemption Vs. Disarmament / Multilateralism: The U.S. Foreign Policy Debate Continues

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Ralph A. Cossa
Pacific Forum CSIS

Concerns and complaints about Washington’s Iraq policy and its broader approach toward the ongoing war on terrorism, and speculation regarding North Korea’s diplomatic overtures dominated East Asia security dialogue during the last quarter.  This time last year, the world had rallied behind the U.S. in the wake of the horrific Sept. 11 attacks. Much of that support and goodwill has dissipated, however.  The reasons vary and are complex but two words are central to any explanation: Iraq (and more specifically “regime change”) and preemption; the latter being put forth not only in the Iraqi context but as the basis of a new national security strategy.  Their long-term impact on U.S.-East Asia (and broader) relationships remains unclear; China-U.S. relations in particular could be challenged – or strengthened – depending on how the UN Security Council debate over Iraq plays out.  Equally unclear is the impact of the DPRK’s recent “smile diplomacy,” which has seen an unprecedented effort by Pyongyang simultaneously to improve relations with Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington.  Meanwhile, multilateralism seems to be thriving in East Asia, both with the U.S. (ASEAN Regional Forum) and without (ASEAN Plus Three).

“We’re All Working on Iraq”

I recently talked with a senior U.S. official deeply involved in U.S.-DPRK relations.  “Well,” I said, “as hectic as your life has become, there’s one consolation: at least you’re not working on Iraq.”  His response: “We’re all working on Iraq.”  Iraq – or more specifically, what the U.S. plans to do about Saddam Hussein –  looms large in almost any discussion of security issues in East Asia, regardless of the stated topic of the dialogue.  As a result, this quarter’s regional overview begins with commentary on an issue far removed geographically from East Asia but foremost in almost everyone’s mind.

When it comes to dealing with Saddam Hussein, President George W. Bush’s Sept. 12 speech to the United Nations General Assembly appeared finally to put the ball where it belongs: squarely in the United Nation’s court.  How the UN acts will largely determine how Saddam and ultimately the Bush administration responds.  This is especially true after Saddam announced that he would let UN inspectors back in; a move no doubt aimed at dividing what had been a growing international consensus behind a more intrusive inspection resolution, this time with enforcement mechanisms.

The U.S. now faces a formidable diplomatic challenge; one made more difficult by its own earlier actions.  The White House’s initial response to the Sept. 11 attacks had been generally well-received in Asia and globally.  It was deliberate, carefully thought out, and fully coordinated with a growing international coalition that saw almost all the nations of the world contribute in some manner to the war on terrorism’s initial prosecution. Much of that support and goodwill has been squandered, however, as the administration (or at least many of its more vocal hawks) seemed to take their eye off the ball in their eagerness to spread the war in Iraq’s direction.  Meanwhile, talk of regime change and preemption took attention away from the problem – Iraq’s continued flaunting of the UN and Saddam’s growing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capability – and placed it on the nature of the cure rather than on the disease.

President Bush’s management style seemed to allow loose cannons to fire at will as hawks and doves engaged in an increasingly public debate over Saddam Hussein’s fate.  While President Bush repeatedly said that he had not decided on a military option, regime change (which one should recall was a stated objective of the Clinton administration as well) became synonymous with military action, which in turn became synonymous with a U.S. march on Baghdad – one that many uninformed members of the media were declaring to be imminent, despite the lack of approved war plans or combat and logistic support forces on the ground.

Regime Change vs. Disarming Saddam.  Presidential leadership and focus over the Iraqi debate were a long time in coming but have been increasingly apparent since the Sept. 12 UN speech.  White House pronouncements since that time have wisely stressed disarmament, not regime change (even though the latter clearly remains the preferred long-term outcome).  “I’m willing to give peace a chance to work,” Bush has said, “[Saddam] has got a choice: he can disarm.”  War is neither preferable nor inevitable, President Bush now seems to be saying, even though “the use of force may become unavoidable” if Saddam persists in his defiance of UN resolutions.  (Secretary of State Colin Powell added an interesting bit of spin to the regime change debate in an Oct. 3 interview with USA Today, saying that if new intrusive inspections can certify that Iraq has truly disarmed, “then, in effect, you have a different kind of regime no matter who’s in Baghdad.”)

Ball is in UN’s Court. The question now is, how will the UN Security Council (UNSC), respond? For those – the Chinese foremost among them – who have long argued that a multilateral approach (through the United Nations) rather than unilateralism was the proper way to proceed, President Bush has finally thrown down the gauntlet.  “All the world now faces a test and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment,” Bush asserted.  Is the UN prepared to enforce resolutions or only to make them?  In Kosovo, then-President Bill Clinton and the U.S.’s NATO allies let the UN off the hook by presuming that it would not respond and proceeding based on that assumption.  The old fortune cookie admonition to “be careful what you wish for because you might get it” now applies.  Some UNSC members may now be secretly wishing Bush had proceeded alone – it is much easier to criticize Washington than to make tough decisions.

This provides China with a golden opportunity to become part of the solution, rather than be seen (as many of its detractors claim) as part of the problem.  Will Beijing back a new intrusive inspection regime and also be prepared to enforce it when Saddam tests it, as history says he will?  Or will Beijing confirm the suspicion of those who charge that China’s enthusiasm for multilateralism is all talk, no action?  The same questions apply to the other UNSC members (the obvious exception being the UK, which has steadfastly supported the U.S. position), and especially to the Russians and the French, whose willingness to turn a blind eye to past Iraqi indiscretions has emboldened Saddam to continue to defy and thus denigrate the UN.  As this quarter ended, there were already signs that some UNSC members were backing away from a resolution with teeth, which would allow Saddam to repeat his previous games and delay the process of holding Iraq accountable.

The big question before the international community today is not “will (or when will) the U.S. attack?” but will the UN Security Council finally act forcefully to restore its own credibility . . .  and with it the credibility of those in Washington and elsewhere who have long argued that Washington must remain on a cooperative, multilateral, internationalist path?  Or will the members of the UNSC prove the unilateralists right?

Preemption as the New National Security Strategy?

If President Bush’s Sept. 12 speech was seen as a positive step in the direction of multilateralism, this was quickly countered by the release of The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (NSS) eight days later.  In Section III, which describes the war on terrorism, the report notes that terrorist organizations of global reach and terrorists or state sponsors of terrorism attempting to gain or use WMD will be the immediate focus of the war on terrorism, and that the U.S. “will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country.”   This point is reemphasized in Section V, which focuses on the WMD threat.  In both instances (and these are the only references to preemption in the 30-plus page report), preemption is put strictly in the context of preventing the use of WMD by terrorists or their sponsors.

Interestingly, Iraq drew only one specific reference; the report cites “irrefutable proof” that Iraq possesses or seeks chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Likewise, North Korea, “the world’s principal purveyor of ballistic missiles,” is dealt with briefly as one of those nations suspected of developing its own WMD arsenal.  It is refreshing to note that the term “axis of evil” appears nowhere in the document.

Press coverage of its release notwithstanding, the NSS report is not just (or even primarily) about preemption.  Building on themes outlined in President Bush’s June 1 West Point commencement address (see “Powell Speaks … Was Anyone Listening?” Comparative Connections, Vol. 4, No. 2, July 2002), the NSS report stressed the importance of growing major power cooperation, devoting an entire section (VIII) to cooperative action with the other major centers of global power: Russia, China, and India, plus NATO and U.S. allies in Asia. Like previous editions (the last NSS report was issued by the Clinton administration in December 1999), it affirms the importance of Washington’s bilateral alliances and U.S. forces based overseas: “one of the most profound symbols of the U.S. commitments to allies and friends.”  It also devotes entire sections to the need for economic growth through free markets and trade, building the infrastructure of democracy, and promoting human dignity.

The report spends at least as much time extolling the continued importance of deterrence – a strategy The New York Times declared “all but dead” in its own analysis of the NSS – as it does the need to be prepared for preemptive action against those who might not be deterred.  It also notes that the U.S. “will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression.”  Nonetheless, legitimate concerns have been raised that others might be tempted to follow the Bush administration’s lead in legitimizing preemptive action: Russia against Georgia, India against Pakistan, and perhaps even an Israeli preemption against Saddam immediately come to mind.

DPRK: Underestimating Koizumi . . . and Kim Jong-il

The NSS spends little time discussing East Asia regional issues and concerns, beyond stating the need for continued deterrence on the Korean Peninsula.  Nonetheless, events on the Peninsula certainly attracted Washington’s attention during this past quarter.  Most dramatic was the successful Sept. 17 Koizumi-Kim meeting in Pyongyang, which demonstrated just how much critics underestimated both Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.  Both demonstrated a considerable amount of diplomatic skill – and political courage – during this historic one-day meeting, which appears to have accomplished Tokyo’s stated objective of getting the normalization process back on track.

Most pundits agreed that the meeting would be considered a failure if Koizumi did not achieve at least a partial accounting of the missing Japanese citizens believed to have been abducted by North Korea several decades ago.  I had even suggested that the North Korean leader, in response to Koizumi’s expected apology for Japan’s colonial transgressions, acknowledge in return that the unresolved state of hostility had resulted in occasional unfriendly acts by the North against Japan as well. But even the most optimistic could not have expected a full confession and apology from Kim Jong-il for the “regrettable” actions that had occurred against the backdrop of “decades of hostile relations.”  While attributing the kidnaping to “blind heroism” on the part of “misguided” military intelligence officials, Kim asserted that “after I came to know about this, the persons responsible have been punished,” promising further that “it will never be allowed to happen again.”

Prime Minister Koizumi’s perseverance on the abduction issue should be applauded.  Previous Japanese leaders allegedly were prepared to sweep it under the rug in return for forward progress.  Some accused Koizumi of being prepared to go down this same path while others recommended that he should.  Some even tried to make the case that the abductions never happened at all.  But Koizumi hung tough and demonstrated that North Korea will respond positively when it understands that core issues are at stake; a lesson others should learn when dealing with Pyongyang.

The Bush administration – or at least those within it who see the wisdom of not opening up a third front to complicate its ongoing campaigns against international terrorism and Saddam Hussein – should be delighted with the outcome.  Kim Jong-il’s indefinite continuation of the North’s missile test moratorium avoids a potential impending crisis in U.S.-DPRK relations, given the previous January 2003 scheduled end date.  Expressions of Pyongyang’s commitment to “abide by international agreements regarding nuclear weapons” could also indicate a willingness to begin the process of coming into full compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – a future stumbling block in the implementation of the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework – although much remains to be done here.

Some critics are warning that Pyongyang may be playing its time-honored game of trying to pit Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo against one another through this latest overture.  But, unlike past initiatives, Pyongyang seems prepared to move forward with all three simultaneously; its talks with Seoul continue apace and Kim Jong-il asked Koizumi to pass a message to President Bush that “the door is open for dialogue” with Washington as well. (As the new quarter began, the Bush administration sent its own high-level emissary, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly, to establish the framework for future U.S.-DPRK dialogue.  No breakthroughs were expected – and preliminary reporting indicates none occurred – but at least the dialogue process has begun.)

During their meeting, Kim Jong-il indicated to PM Koizumi that the Japanese Red Army terrorists who hijacked an aircraft to North Korea in 1970 and still remain there have “expressed their intention to go home,” and that North Korea would help them do so soon.  When and if this occurs, Washington will face the difficult decision of whether or not to remove one of the charter members of the “axis of evil” from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List – Pyongyang’s continuing harboring of these aging hijackers, and the need to support Tokyo’s demand for information on the kidnap victims, have been the primary stated reasons for not removing North Korea from the list.  A failure to do so once these conditions are met will be seen as proof by many U.S. critics (especially in the ROK) that the Bush administration still seeks confrontation rather than reconciliation on the Peninsula.

Asian Multilateralism Rolls On Amid Preparations for APEC

The NSS report also expresses the conviction that “multilateral institutions can multiply the strength of freedom-loving nations” and further states that the U.S. will build upon the stability provided by institutions such as ASEAN and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum “to develop a mix of regional and bilateral strategies to manage change in this dynamic region.”  In fact, multilateralism seems to be thriving in East Asia, both with the U.S. (APEC and the ASEAN Regional Forum, or ARF) and without (ASEAN Plus Three).  The July 31 ARF meeting was particularly important and rewarding to Washington.  Secretary Powell attended and also presided over the signing of an ASEAN-U.S. anti-terrorism declaration along the sidelines of the broader ARF meeting.  The ARF Chairman’s Statement included repeated references to the need to combat international terrorism in the wake of Sept. 11, citing its own Workshops on Financial Measures Against Terrorism and the Prevention of Terrorism plus the establishment of both an Inter-sessional Meeting on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime and an ARF Work Programme on Terrorism.  In addition to Brunei, Secretary Powell also visited five other ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand), underscoring continued U.S. interest in the region in its own right as well as its importance as a “second front” in the war on terrorism.  Of note, the ARF meeting also provided the opportunity for an “informal chat” between Secretary Powell and DPRK Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun, which helped to set a positive tone in advance of the Kelly visit to Pyongyang.

A meeting of ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan, South Korea) foreign ministers also took place in Brunei as preparations continued for their annual summit meeting, scheduled for Nov. 5 in Phnom Penh.  Japan, in particular, appears to be trying to play a more active leadership role in this forum, perhaps to counter (or at least match) earlier Chinese efforts to guide this multilateral effort.  At the first ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials Meeting on Energy (SOME) in Indonesia in July, officials agreed to Japan’s initiative to organize the ASEAN Plus Three Oil Security Workshop in March 2003 in Malaysia.  Japan’s leadership on this issue is positive but is also to be expected.  As Pacific Forum CSIS economic analyst Jane Skanderup points out, Japan is the only Asian country with adequate strategic oil reserves, and Japan’s worries about energy interdependencies during a crisis have only risen as China’s oil imports have steadily increased.  As a result, Tokyo believes it is high time for the region’s energy consumers to start reading from the same script, especially since APEC has been slow to move on energy security issues, as discussions get bogged down over oil producers’ concerns.  In this sense, Japan has utilized the ASEAN Plus Three mechanism perfectly.

Japan also hosted an ASEAN Plus Three Initiative for Development in East Asia (IDEA) meeting in Tokyo on Aug. 12 to promote regional cooperation on development issues.  Assembled ministers agreed that “multitiered regional cooperation and interdependence would help the region deal with the challenges of globalization” and acknowledged the significance of maintaining adequate official development assistance (ODA) “as a tool for strengthening regional cooperation.”  Given that Tokyo is the region’s principal ODA provider, this meeting was apparently aimed, at least in part, at highlighting Japan’s continued economic relevance in the region, despite its festering domestic economic problems.

Heads of state and government (or their designated representatives) from 10 Asian countries also met with 15 European counterparts plus the president of the European Commission at the fourth Asia-Europe (ASEM) Summit Meeting in Copenhagen on Sept. 23-24.  ASEM involves a series of task force and ministerial meetings (primarily but not exclusively on economic issues) in addition to once every two year summits, aimed at developing closer cooperation between Europe and Asia.  This year’s meeting featured a Cooperation Programme as well as a Declaration on Cooperation Against
International Terrorism as well as a Political Declaration for Peace on the Korean Peninsula which endorsed North-South dialogue and called for a resumption of talks between Washington and Pyongyang as well.  Iraq was also a focus of discussions with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji reportedly warning of “severe consequences” if the U.S. were to launch strikes without authority or mandate from the UN.  An ASEM task force meeting on combating terrorism is scheduled for next year in Beijing with the next summit to take place in Hanoi in 2004.

Preparations also continued during this past quarter for the 12th APEC Leaders’ Meeting on Oct. 26-27 in Mexico, which will mark the first time that one of APEC’s Latin American members will host APEC.  At the senior officials and finance ministers meetings in August and September, respectively, the themes of financial cooperation on antiterrorism and support of the Doha Development Agenda remained strong.

As this year’s APEC theme, Mexico has chosen “Expanding the Benefits of Cooperation for Economic Growth and Development: Implementing the Vision.”  While this may sound like typical APEC-speak, Jane Skanderup argues that the Mexican hosts aim to energize implementation of already agreed upon trade, investment, and financial policies, to “make things happen after the meeting” as Mexico’s President Vicente Fox has repeatedly said.  Two other principal themes, said to be of personal interest to President Fox, are focusing on the SME (small and medium size enterprises) sector and involving youth and women in APEC to a greater degree.

But perhaps the greatest impact of the Mexican hosts on this year’s meeting will be the passion that President Fox has exhibited about the importance of APEC.  At a time when bilateral negotiations and the various ASEAN “Plus” dialogues seem so much more central to Asia’s destiny than the strange, compromised beast of burden that APEC has become, President Fox is a true believer in APEC joining forces to deal with common challenges.  Mexico has none of the allergy to binding agreements that Asia feels, and the Fox team seems intent on advocating result-oriented actions and policies to their APEC counterparts.  It will be interesting to see how the APEC body responds to this infusion of Latin spice blended with healthy doses of pragmatism.

 

Regional Chronology

July — September 2002


July 1, 2002: Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro meets with ROK President Kim Dae-jung in Tokyo; reaffirms the importance of cooperation.

July 2, 2002: East Timor and Indonesia establish formal diplomatic ties.

July 2, 2002: U.S. withdraws offers to North Korea to resume security talks.

July 2-6 2002: East Timor’s President Gusmao visits Indonesian President Megawati in Jakarta.

July 2, 2002: Seoul halts rice shipments to North Korea following June 29 Yellow Sea naval clash.

July 10, 2002:  Malaysia’s highest court unanimously rejects an appeal by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to overturn his 1999 conviction.

July 10, 2002: U.S. presents payment to North Korea to help finance searches for the remains of U.S. soldiers missing in action from the Korean War.

July 10-12, 2002: Kim Yong-nam, the head of North Korea’s Parliament, visits Indonesia.

July 12, 2002: Pentagon releases report on China’s military capabilities.

July 15, 2002: U.S. Congressional Commission report on China released.

July 19, 2002:  First public reports emerge that North Korea is scrapping its decades old rationing system and instituting price reform.

July 21, 2002: Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian takes over as ruling party chairman.

July 25, 2002: North Korea issues statement of regret over June 29 naval clash.

July 26-Aug. 3, 2002: Secretary of State Colin L. Powell visits India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Brunei.

July 30, 2002: ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers meet in Brunei.

July 30-31, 2002: Energy Secretary Abraham visits Moscow.

July 31, 2002:  Secretary Powell attends ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting in Brunei, hold informal talks with North Korean Foreign Minister Paek, the first high-level contact between the U.S. and DPRK in two years.

Aug. 2, 2002:  Secretary Powell on visit to Jakarta announces U.S. will resume military training as part of U.S. counterterrorism assistance.

Aug. 2, 2002:  Malaysian PM Mahathir and Australian FM Downer sign counter-terrorism pact in Kuala Lumpur.

Aug. 3, 2002:  Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian raises the possibility of a referendum on independence, states there is one country on each side of the Straits.

Aug. 5, 2002: Taiwan Premier Yu transits U.S. through Los Angeles and New York en route to Latin America.

Aug. 5, 2002:  Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council chairperson issues statement that President Chen’s remarks do not signal a policy change.

Aug. 5, 2002: Japan’s FM Kawaguchi visit Burma, meets with Gen. Than Shwe and pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aug. 7, 2002:  State Department special envoy Jack Pritchard attends ceremony in North Korea commemorating the first pouring of concrete in the KEDO project.

Aug. 12, 2002: Japan hosts ASEAN Plus Three meeting to address overseas development assistance.

Aug. 12, 2002:  Philippine Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes meets with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. New five-year plan for stepped-up U.S. military assistance to the Philippines announced.

Aug. 18-19, 2002: Malaysian PM Mahathir visits Burma.

Aug. 20-21, 2002: APEC senior officials meet in Acapulco.

Aug. 20-23, 2002: DPRK leader Kim Jong-il visits Russia, meets Russian President Putin in Vladivostok.

Aug. 22, 2002: Seventh PRC-Russia Prime Ministers’ meeting held in Shanghai.

Aug. 25, 2002:  China’s announces that the 16th Party Congress will be held Nov. 8.

Aug. 25, 2002: China issued new regulations on the export of missile technology.

Aug. 25-26, 2002: North Korea and Japan hold the first governmental talks since 2000 in Pyongyang.

Aug. 26, 2002: Deputy Secretary of State Armitage meets Vice President Hu in Beijing to finalize preparations for U.S.-China summit in October.

Aug. 27, 2002: PM Koizumi and Deputy Secretary Armitage meet in Tokyo; Koizumi informs the U.S. of his plan to visit North Korea Sept. 17.

Aug. 29, 2002:  Undersecretary of State Bolton visits Seoul, defends President Bush’s “axis of evil” comment.

Aug. 30, 2002:  The two Koreas agree to restore road and rail links across the border, beginning on Sept. 18.

Aug. 30, 2002: Japanese PM Koizumi announces intention to meet with DPRK President Kim Jong-il in North Korea on Sept. 17.

Sept. 3, 2002: Russia announces intention to ratify the Kyoto treaty on global warming.

Sept. 3-15, 2002: Chinese National People’s Congress Chairman Li Peng visits Thailand, Indonesia, and Philippines.

Sept. 6, 2002: APEC finance ministers meeting, Los Cabos, Mexico.

Sept. 6-7, 2002:  Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG) meets in Seoul.

Sept. 9, 2002:  The State Department announces U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and the U.S. consulate in Surabaya will close because of a threat of attack.

Sept. 9-14, 2002: PM Koizumi in the U.S.; meets President Bush and gives speeches at Harvard University, the United Nations, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sept. 11, 2002:  The UN Sanctions Committee adds Xinjiang separatist group, East Turkestan Islamic Movement, to its list of terrorist organizations following U.S.-China request.

Sept. 11, 2002:  Japan raises suspected North Korean spy-ship.

Sept. 11, 2002:  Secretary Bolton arrives in Moscow for senior level talks.

Sept. 11, 2002: Russian President Putin threatens preemptive counterterorrism attacks against Georgia.

Sept. 12, 2002: President Bush addresses UN General Assembly, calls for intrusive inspections to halt Iraq’s WMD programs.

Sept. 12, 2002: Pyongyang announces plans to set up a special administrative region in the northwestern city of Sinuiji on the Chinese border.

Sept. 13, 2002:  Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad announces intention to resign from all elected posts after his planned retirement late next year.

Sept. 13, 2002: FM Tang vows before the U.N. General Assembly that China will never allow Taiwan to become independent.

Sept. 13-18, 2002: North-South Korea family reunions at Mt. Kumgang.

Sept. 14, 2002: ASEAN Plus Three Economic Ministers meeting, Brunei.

Sept. 14, 2002: China warns Singapore of “trouble” if it establishes an FTA with Taiwan.

Sept. 17, 2002:  PM Koizumi visits Pyongyang. DPRK leader Kim-Jong-il apologizes for his country’s abduction of Japanese citizens.

Sept. 17, 2002: Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew visits Taiwan after PRC visit.

Sept. 18, 2002:  Reconstruction of railways and roads through Korean DMZ begins.

Sept. 20, 2002:  Washington releases The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, which addresses need for preemption against WMD threat.

Sept. 20, 2002:  Japan issues demand for compensation from North Korea for abducting Japanese citizens.

Sept. 20, 2002:  Taiwan’s First Lady arrives in U.S. for a private visit.

Sept. 23, 2002: Pyongyang announces the establishment of a special administrative region near its border with China in the northwestern city of Sinuiju.

Sept. 23-24, 2002: Asia-Europe (ASEM) Meeting in Copenhagen.

Sept. 24-26, 2002: U.S. special envoy Pritchard meets with DPRK officials in NY.

Sept. 26, 2002: U.S. announces Asst. Secretary of State James Kelly will visit Pyongyang on Oct. 3.

Sept. 27, 2002: Indonesian FM Wirayuda visits Moscow to discuss preparations for President Megawati’s visit to Russia in early 2003.

Sept. 28, 2002: North Korea announces that foreigners will be allowed to enter the special administrative region without visas.

Sept. 29, 2002: Asian Games open in Pusan; North-South Korean athletes march under common flag.

Sept. 30, 2002: UN announces that donation shortfalls will force it to drastically reduce grain rations to North Korea.