WCC-CCA Holds Joint Consultation on the Korean Peninsula

Speaking at a October 17-20 consultation organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) at Gotemba, near Toyko, Japan, Laney said that "President Bush's branding North Korea part of the so-called axis of evil has put back the normalization process of the Korean peninsula several years".

About 50 delegates from Asia, Europe and North America gathered in Gotemba Japan, for an ecumenical consultation on the developments of peace in the Korean Peninsula. The Oct. 17-20 consultation, which was jointly organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), focused on ways churches can help in the process of resolving the conflict between the two Koreas.

"We want to find ways to encourage WCC-CCA member churches in consultation with churches in Korea to reflect together on and engage in common prayer to reinforce their advocacy efforts for a just and lasting peace," said WCC International Affairs program executive Clement John.

Much of the three day conference was spent recalibrating the inter-governmental initiatives to attain peace.

Dr James Laney, former US ambassador to South Korea, explained that the current US government favors six-party talks on the peaceful reunification of a nuclear free Korea.

The multilateral Six-Party Talks, involving North and South Korea, the US, Japan, China and Russia, began in 2003 with China hosting two rounds. A group met in mid-May 2004 to prepare for the third round, but was unable to come to a decision.

However, Laney added that the administration’s branding of North Korea as part of an “axis of evil” halted further developments in the Talks.

"President Bush's branding North Korea part of the so-called axis of evil has put back the normalization process of the Korean peninsula several years,” Laney said.

Nonetheless, Laney said the Six Party Talks are a necessary part of the road to reconciling the two Koreas.

Meanwhile, during his welcoming remarks, the CCA general secretary said the global community must help in uniting the North and the South.

"The unification of Korea is neither rhetoric nor a slogan, but a permanent mandate to be achieved by peaceful means," said Dr Ahn Jae-Woong, adding that the Korean people cannot achieve unification alone but need the help of the global community.

The consultation, which was hosted by the National Council of Churches of Japan, marked the anniversary of a similar ecumenical gathering 20 years ago that brought together church leaders from 20 nations.

The two Koreas have been separated since the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. Although a cease-fire agreement was made three years later, the two nations did not sign a treaty to officially end the war.