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. Bush warns Iran, North Korea on nuclear ambitions
SANTIAGO (AFP) Nov 20, 2004
US President George W. Bush warned "axis of evil" states Iran and North Korea on Saturday the world is united in its determination to thwart any plans to develop nuclear weapons.

Bush warned Iran over reports it has accelerated production of uranium material that could be used to make nuclear weapons, and vowed to unite Asia-Pacific allies in pressing North Korea to abandon an admitted nuclear weapons program.

Nuclear proliferation and the US-led "war on terror" overwhelmed preparations for an annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which was opening Saturday by the foothills of the Andes in the Chilean capital, Santiago.

The 21-member APEC summit, starting a day after violent clashes erupted between police and anti-APEC, anti-Bush protesters, concludes Sunday with informal discussions in a "retreat" at Santiago's neoclassical La Moneda palace.

More protests are expected Saturday evening.

Bush gave a stern warning to Iran.

"This is a very serious matter, the world knows it's a serious matter, and we're working together to solve this matter," the US leader said.

"It's very important for the Iranian government to hear that we are concerned about their desires, and we're concerned about reports that show that prior to a certain international meeting, they're willing to speed up processing of materials that could lead to a nuclear weapon," Bush said.

In a rush of meetings with fellow leaders before the APEC summit, Bush also tried to wrench the Asia-Pacific alliance together against Pyongyang's nuclear weapons scheme.

"The leader of North Korea will hear a common voice," he promised.

Bush met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Chinese President Hu Jintao, South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun and Russian President Vladimir Putin, all partners in six-party talks with Pyongyang.

"What's very important is for the leader of North Korea to understand that the six-party talks will be the framework in which we continue to discuss the mutual goal we all have, which is to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons," he said.

Washington hopes to pull Pyongyang back to the negotiations as early as possible -- perhaps as early as this year, but more likely in early 2005, according to a senior administration official.

North Korea, which revealed it had a nuclear weapons program two years ago, boycotted the latest round of talks in September.

Anti-terrorism measures are bound to be central at the APEC summit talks.

APEC foreign ministers, including outgoing US Secretary of State Colin Powell, set the tone for the leaders, agreeing to keep closer tabs on shoulder-mounted missile launchers, which could give a terrorist the capacity to down a plane.

Leaders are also expected to discuss a business leaders' proposal for the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, or FTAAP, embracing the giant trading groups of the Americas and East Asia.

APEC appeared split over the free trade plan.

Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and the United States backed it, while others, such as China, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia, were cautious or opposed it, APEC sources said.

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