Clinton backs US non-aggression pact with NKorea to end nuke crisis
SEOUL (AFP) Nov 14, 2003
Former US president Bill Clinton said Friday he supports the signing of a non-aggression pact with North Korea to end a crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

Clinton, on a three-day visit to South Korea since Thursday, said the administration of President George W. Bush, his successor, would have little to lose with the treaty because Washington has no plan to attack the Stalinist state as stated before.

"I would include a non-aggression pact between the United States and North Korea because I don't think our country would ever be aggressive against anyone who did not violate an agreement first," Clinton said in a speech here late Friday.

His comments came amid rising hopes for the United States, North Korea, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea to have a second round of talks aimed at ending the crisis by year's end.

The first round of six-nation talks ended inconclusively in Beijing in August as the United States rejected a bilateral non-aggression pact demanded by North Korea.

President Bush has said Washington would instead provide a multilateral written security guarantee in return for a complete and verifiable dismantling of Pyongyang's nuclear program.

In the speech marking the anniversary of Seoul-based SBS television broadcaster, Clinton stressed efforts to prevent North Korea from being tempted to make and sell nuclear bombs or missiles.

"I think it is important for all of us to send a signal to North Koreans that we want to live in peace with them and we want to have a partnership with them," Clinton said.

He said he hoped that after the six-way talks, North Korea will drop its nuclear program and allow international inspections in return for food and fuel for the faminished state.

Meeting with South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun earlier Friday, Clinton said he prefers negotiations to other means for settling the crisis, officials said.

"Former president Clinton said that it would be desirable to resolve it through negotiations, rather than to take a dangerous risk," said presidential spokesman Yoon Tae-Young after the Clinton-Roh meeting.

Both leaders agreed on the need for "an early settlement" to the crisis, Yoon said, adding Roh said North Korea was said to want "a peaceful conclusion of the nuclear issue" despite its unpredictable behavior.

The nuclear crisis erupted in October last year when Washington said the North had admitted running a secret uranium-enrichment program in violation of a 1994 accord with the United States.