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S. Korea, U.S., China should talk about how to handle N. Korea's collapse: ex-U.S. commander

2016/04/20 04:00

WASHINGTON, April 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea, the United States and China should launch talks about how to handle North Korea's collapse or other contingencies involving the regime in Pyongyang, a former U.S. Pacific commander said Tuesday.

"The U.S., South Korea and the Chinese ultimately have to have a dialogue, a continued dialogue about what happens as North Korea either implodes or changes when the peninsula is reunited. I believe there is a lot of value in that dialogue," former PACOM commander Samuel Locklear said during a National Bureau of Asian Research seminar.

China has for decades had mistrust about the U.S. position in Korea more than it's worried about a collapse of the North, but the situation is moving in a direction that could lead to the paradigm flipping over, the former admiral said.

"When that paradigm changes and there's adequate trust between the United States and China on this very, very, very important issue of how this is handled on the other end, and South Korea, that when that flips over, we'll have real progress. I see progress in that direction," he said.

Locklear, a retired admiral who headed PACOM from 2012 to 2015, called the North a "failed state" through three generations of the Kim family.

"People there that are disadvantaged, small in stature, don't get enough to eat every day, don't have an understanding of what the rest of the world is doing," he said. "I believe that it is a country held together by military fear and that fear is fermented by an improper image by South Korea, an improper image of the United States."

   He said China has a role to play in changing the North.

"Of course they do. They're a provider of food supplies, they're a provider of fuel," he said. "The Chinese in the 21st century timeframe have certainly been more productive in trying to understand how we would shape the Korean Peninsula, and a North Korea in a favorable way so the security environment doesn't collapse."

   jschang@yna.co.kr

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