U.S., SOUTH KOREA TO DISCUSS NUCLEAR ISSUE AT APEC


2003.10.13

Two presidents to meet on sidelines of Bangkok summit

U.S. President George W. Bush will hold talks with his South Korean counterpart Roh Moo-Hyun on the North Korea nuclear stand-off when the two leaders meet in Bangkok for next week's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, RFA's Korean service reports.

Roh's office has announced that the president is due to meet Bush on Oct. 20 and also hopes to have bilateral talks with other leaders, including those from China, Russia, Japan, and Mexico.

"Through the bilateral meetings, President Roh is scheduled to exchange wide-range opinions on how to resolve North Korea's nuclear problem," the statement said.

The news comes amid a flurry of top-level diplomatic activity surrounding Pyongyang's nuclear program.

Roh's national security adviser, Ra Jong-Il, flew to Washington on Sunday to meet with his U.S. counterpart Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials, in meetings scheduled through Wednesday.

The Chinese and Russian deputy foreign ministers, Wang Yi and Alexander Losyukov, were to meet in Moscow to discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons program, as well as bilateral ties.

China and Russia are two of the six parties that took part in negotiations in Beijing in August to resolve the dispute, which was triggered in October 2002 when Pyongyang said it had restarted its nuclear weapons program. The talks produced no agreement other than a stated intention to reconvene.

North Korea has since given conflicting signals about its willingness to continue with the China-brokered process, calling for Japan's removal from the talks, while also appearing to indicate it favored a second round in December.

Meanwhile, Japanese police arrested several used car dealers Monday over the attempted export to North Korea of a large trailer that could be used for launching missiles, according to Japan's Kyodo news agency.

Police in the southern city of Fukuoka said that a dealership in the city was suspected of falsifying customs documents to avoid strict export controls to North Korea.

North Korea wants a bilateral nonaggression pact with the United States before it abandons its nuclear arms program, while the United States wants North Korea to move quickly to scrap the nuclear program first.

In an apparent move to put pressure on U.S. negotiators ahead of fresh talks, Pyongyang has also vowed to further boost its production of nuclear weapons, saying it has finished processing 8,000 plutonium spent fuel rods, enough to manufacture up to six nuclear warheads.#####

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