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J. de Venecia: Address to 32nd International Leadership Conference

Address to 32nd International Leadership Conference, Seoul, Korea, August 26–29, 2018


Fast-Moving Possibilities for Peace in the Two Koreas

by Jose de Venecia, Jr., Former Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines

There is a clear focused movement in inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korean talks, prior to formal difficult negotiations among the heads of government, which hopefully could lead to eventual peace in the Korean Peninsula, long awaited by Asia and the global community.

The news in the earlier weeks is that CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who assumed the post of U.S. Secretary of State following his U.S. Senate confirmation, quietly met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, which led later to the meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The South Korean President, Moon Jae-In, initiated the fast-moving diplomacy with the North Korean leader.

Kudos as well to our colleague in the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), which we founded in Manila in September 17-20, 2000. He is our friend Ambassador Chung Eui-yong, whom, upon his retirement from the Korean foreign service, we designated to the post of Secretary-General of ICAPP, and then later, we promoted him as our Co-Chairman. He is now on leave from ICAPP and is serving as National Security Adviser to the President of South Korea.

His replacement as ICAPP Secretary General is the former Korean Ambassador to Moscow, the active Park Rob-yug.

In the last two months events and pace-setting talks moved rapidly and led to the apparently successful Summit talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and the young North Korean leader that could subsequently lead to denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula.

We have always believed the objective of the talks is to achieve North Korean denuclearization, which is not easily achievable considering that it will mean that North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons, atomic and hydrogen bombs, and delivery systems, after great North Korean expense and sacrifice in their development.

But the fact that North Korean Kim agreed to the convening of the talks with President Trump in Singapore, which were apparently successful and could lead to more specific and substantial and far-ranging talks supported by the South Korean President Moon Jae-In, says a lot.

We believe that over and above the giving up of its nuclear weapons, it would be realpolitik to expect that North Korea would hope for an iron-clad Omnibus Agreement leading to a Permanent Peace Treaty, with the South and the U.S., which could most likely include the following:

  1. North Korea (The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK) and South Korea (Republic of Korea, ROK), as separate independent Republics, but perhaps connected together by a loose Confederation, until at some point in the near or distant future, they can consider uniting like the two Vietnams or the two Germanys;
  1. Withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea;
  1. Withdrawal of the North Korean and South Korean troops from the areas of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in the 38th Parallel to make the DMZ truly demilitarized;
  1. Immediately organize an adequate Development Fund to be supported by the U.S., South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and perhaps some European states, for compensating North Korea for eventually terminating its nuclear weapons and delivery system over a specified period, which Fund shall be used for the North’s economic and social development and augmentation of its national budget;
  1. Development of a concrete formula for South-North Confederation where the two Koreas will be separate and independent but develop common inter-dependent synergies until, if they will it, they can set up a Union or what the Greeks call “Enosis” in 15 to 25 years or earlier;
  1. Develop inter-Korea commercial flights, highways, and a common railway system for the two Koreas from Pusan at the end of the Korean South facing Japan to North Korea’s Yalu border with China, which, it is hoped, will interlink with the Trans-Siberian Railway to Russia and to Europe;
  1. Develop close political and economic relations between North and South and inter-Korean travel among their citizens and ties with China, Japan, the U.S., Russia, and ASEAN and work with the U.N. system and the global community;
  1. Develop and industrialize the North Korean economy and agriculture, put an end to the recurring causes of famine, expand the education system, and immediately open the region to active tourism;
  1. North Korea or DPRK to immediately join ASEAN Plus 3 (Japan, China, South Korea) to become ASEAN Plus 4;
  1. Consider a state of Neutrality for the two independent Koreas which shall actively interact with the regional and global economy so that the North, with its hydrocarbons potential, mining, and hydro-electric resources, etc., can join the South, which has already developed much earlier, into a credible major economic power.

We had pointed out before that the successful dynamics of North Korea’s nuclear development and delivery system could be channeled to economic mobilization.

We added that the “long-suspended Six-Nation Talks could have a business-focused auxiliary to develop economic joint ventures for deployment in the Korean north.”

We believe that the potential of the two Koreas in cooperating together or united in peace could eventually lead to a prosperous second- or first-world nation in the third decade of the 21st century.

In our last 1990 visit to Pyongyang, as acting Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, we conferred with North Korea’s founding President Kim Il-Sung, in his mountain retreat near the capital. That meeting with the grandfather of today’s young leader Kim Jong-un, immediately led to the establishment of Philippine-North Korean (DPRK) diplomatic relations. Our breakthrough was heartily supported then by the late Philippine President Corazon Aquino and late Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus. The diplomacy was fast-moving in that on our invitation, President Kim instructed North Korea’s Deputy Premier Kim Dahl Hyun to visit Manila in the next few weeks which led to formal diplomatic relations.

We hoped then that at some point, no matter how long, the long crisis and twilight struggle in the Korean peninsula could also come to an end.

We are meeting in London for the second conference of the Asian and European political parties on May 17-20, and then in Moscow in October 24-26 for the 10th General Assembly of the Asian political parties (International Conference of Asian Political Parties, ICAPP)… parties of the Left, Center, and Right, including most likely senior representatives of our old friends in the North Korean Workers Party, and hopefully we can make even an appreciable contribution to the long struggle for peace in the Korean peninsula.

Now the key is to move towards a reasonable deal with North Korea (DPRK): We believe the key is to forge initially a respectable Confederation between North and South, no harm to the South, which is far bigger, already industrialized and wealthy, and for the North, to begin to build its economy, industries, agriculture and trade, and a common North-South railway extending all the way to Pusan in the south, to Russia and onwards to Europe.

In earlier days, atomic powers like Kazakhstan, which is almost as large as Western Europe, also voluntarily demilitarized and gave up its nuclear weapons and today leads in Eurasia.

Indeed North Korea could leverage and give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for large-scale cash, economic assistance, investments and trade, rapidly build up its economy, and eventually be equal in status as sovereigns with South Korea, although the North has a much lesser population.

I was invited last week to North Korea to visit and attend the 70th Founding Anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) beginning September 8. I am reminded of my last visit in 1990, which immediately led to a return visit by North Korean Deputy Premier Kim Dalh Hyun after a few weeks, which immediately led to Philippine-North Korean diplomatic relations. I also asked for a halt to North Korean assistance to the Philippine New People’s Army (guerillas) and the North Korean leader agreed.

Today, I truly and earnestly long for the dawning of peace among the peoples of North and South Korea, perhaps leading to a confederation between North and South.

In a Confederation, North and South would be co-equal sovereign nations, with some centralizing connectivity, and in the fullness of time, if both Koreas will it, could decide to unite as one nation-state like the two Germanys and the two Vietnams.




To go to the 32nd International Leadership Conference Schedule page, click here.