“Megavat” diplomacy: Indonesian President wants to reconcile two Koreas

March 28, President of Indonesia Megavati Sukarnoputri launched his 3-day visit to the Korean Peninsula. First, he intends to visit Korean People’s Democratic Republic, where negotiations with Kim Jong-Il must be carried out. On the face of it, the Indonesian President’s visit looks rather strangely. The official aim of the negotiations is his attempt to further recommencement of the dialogue between Pyongyang and Seul. A reasonable question: how could Indonesia further it? For, traditionally this role belongs to Russia, China, the US, Japan. They have much more opportunities to influence both Korean People’s Democratic Republic and South Korea, than Indonesia. Though these countries’ efforts to stabilize situation in the Korean Peninsula have not brought their fruits yet. So, why does President Sukarnoputri involve in it? In fact, the Indonesian President has enough opportunities. At least the fact is noticeable, that he has been known Kim Jong-Il for a long time. In 1965, the daughter of Sukarno famous with his sympathy with Socialist ideas participated in ceremonies devoted to Indonesian visit of then-leader of Northern Korea Kim Ir Sen. Namely at that time, she became acquainted with Kim Jong-Il, who accompanied his father during the visit. Though, this acquaintance has no continuation: in 1996, in Indonesia a military coup took place, Sukarno was replaced, while general Sukharto became the leader of the country. Though, the memory about that acquaintance was alive. So, the Indonesian President and the North-Korean leader have something to remember. Kim Jong Il himself does not like to leave his country. Within the years of his government, he has been only to China and to Russia. Though, it does not mean that Kim Jong Il cannot receive foreign visitors. Many observers were simply surprised with his competence as for French wines and his ability to appreciate beauty. However, ordinary North-Korean citizens cannot appreciate it, because they do not know what it is, French wine. Though, this has nothing to do with the Indonesian President’s visit. Megavati Sukarnoputri has his own aim connected with the visit: he wants to show to other states, and first of all to the US, that his country, despite all internal troubles it has, can be an active player on the international stage. Therefore, the leadership of the country is able to solve its internal problems. If the visit to the country officially put to Axis of Evil is a success, President Sukarnoputri will be able to earn more points even in opinion of Indonesian Muslim radicals, not saying about that political circles of Indonesia, which not much like the United States. After the visit is finished, the President intends to go to Seul to inform the South-Korean leadership about his previous visit’s result. The Indonesian leader’s negotiations with the South-Korean leadership could stimulate the process of dialogue between two Koreas. In general, one conclusion could be made: Indonesia makes effort to play a more active role in Asia’s affairs. Whether these efforts bring their fruits, depends on Sukarnoputri’s visit to the Korean Peninsula. If it is successful, the Indonesian leadership could pretend on fame of peace-maker. Otherwise, the list of pretenders on settlement the inter-Korean conflict could be added with one more point.

Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru

Tranalsated by Vera Solovieva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/28/38956.html

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