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Australia Foreign Minister Backs Tough Korea Stance

TTHE United States and its allies should continue to work toward economic sanctions against North Korea in the UN Security Council, says Sen. Gareth Evans, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The West should continue to explore the North's position to see what can be achieved through negotiations, he adds, but until there is more clarification from them, ``the sanctions exercise should be maintained.'' The issue is important to Australia since South Korea is its fourth-largest trading partner.

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Yet Senator Evans also suggests it is possible to get back on track without resorting to sanctions. Evans says there has been an ``implicit'' deal on the table since the crisis began if the the North Koreans cooperate and renounce the nuclear option. ``The rest of the world is prepared to give the diplomatic recognition [North Korea] seeks, the quiet life in terms of regime continuity, trade development assistance, trade opportunities, and to give it the opportunity for long-term reconciliation and reunification with the South.''

Evans suspects the North Koreans are engaged in a combination of brinkmanship designed to maximize their returns with minimum concessions, and are trying to hang on to a minimal weapons capacity so they can be considered ``a country of account.'' He does not think war is likely, although there is always the possibility the regime is simply ``blindly reactive,'' which could result in war.

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