Presidents Try to Align on North Korea


2005-06-10
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U.S. President George Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun shake hands at the White House Photo: AFP

WASHINGTON—President George Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun tried to reconcile differences Friday over just how to coax North Korea back to disarmament talks.

“We'll continue to work to have one voice,” Bush said. “South Korea and the United States share the same goal, and that is a Korean Peninsula with no nuclear weapons.”

Roh said some disagreements remain. “There are one or two minor issues, but I'm certain we will be able to work them out with dialogue,” Roh said.

North Korea has boycotted the six-nation talks on its nuclear program for nearly a year. The Bush administration has appealed to both China and South Korea to do more to persuade Pyongyang to rejoin the talks and has hinted that it might seek U.N. sanctions if the reclusive communist regime continues to pursue nuclear arms.

We laid out a way forward last June and it's a reasonable proposal and we're still awaiting the answer.

North Korea has sent mixed signals on whether it will return to the talks, which also include the United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

“The (South Korean) president and I both agree the six-party talks are essential to saying to Mr. Kim Jong Il that he ought to give up his weapons, and making it very clear to him that the way to join the community of nations is to listen to China and South Korea and Japan and Russia and the United States, and that is to give up nuclear weapons,” Bush said.

He offered no new incentives to the reclusive nation, saying trade and economic incentives contained in a U.S.-backed offer made last June stand. “We laid out a way forward last June and it's a reasonable proposal and we're still awaiting the answer to that proposal,” he said.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan had earlier called the talks "an opportunity to build upon what is a very strong alliance" dating back to the 1950-53 war against the Stalinist North.

Efforts to rein in North Korea's nuclear program have strained ties between the two allies, with South Korea balking at a U.S. readiness to call for tougher action, include U.N. sanctions, unless stalled talks resume.

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