Majority of Americans favor U.S. direct engagement with N. Korea: survey

September 24, 2010 12:34 pm 

By Hwang Doo-hyong

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 (PNA/Yonhap) — The majority of Americans want the Obama administration to engage North Korea directly to make a breakthrough in multilateral talks on the North's nuclear dismantlement, a survey said Thursday.

The survey of 2,717 American adults conducted between June 11 and June 22 by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs showed 62 percent of the respondents feel that "U.S. government leaders should be ready to meet and talk with leaders in North Korea."

The Obama administration has been delaying any active engagement with Pyongyang until the country shows commitment to denuclearization and stops provocations like its torpedoing of a South Korean warship in March.

Washington has joined Seoul in refusing to push ahead with an early resumption of the six-party nuclear talks, which the North has boycotted since early last year, when the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said that a new round of the nuclear talks "is not something we're looking at yet," despite criticism that America's current attitude leads only to North Korea strengthening its nuclear arsenal.

The survey also shows that 44 percent of the general U.S. public is "fairly lukewarm" to the early ratification of the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea, which has been pending due to a lopsided auto trade and restricted shipment of beef since it was signed in 2007 under the Bush administration.

The Obama administration wants to conclude talks on the outstanding issues by November and present the deal to Congress early next year, saying the deal's implementation will help increase exports and generate jobs.

Opponents fear over possible job cuts amid the chronic near two-digit joblessness rate.

The vast majority (80 percent) believe the U.S. should maintain its alliance with South Korea if the two Koreas reunify, citing the need to counterbalance China.

As many as 62 percent support U.S. military presence in South Korea, and about half of the respondents said the current level of U.S. troops, at 28,500 forces, is "about right. (PNA/Yonhap)

ALM/mlc

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