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Bush And Roh Say A Nuclear-Armed North Korea Is Unacceptable

US President George W. Bush, US First Lady Laura Bush, Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and his wife Kwon Yang-sook, pose for a photo as they are taken on a tour of the Bulguksa Temple's shrines and pagodas by the resident monk 17 November 2005 in Gyeongju, South Korea. The active Buddhist temple was constructed in the 8th century during Korea's Silla Dynasty. President Bush is on a tour of 4 Asian nations, Japan, South Korea for the APEC summit, China, and Mongolia. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards.

Busan, South Korea (AFP) Nov 17, 2005
US President George W. Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun set aside their differences over North Korea Thursday and declared that a nuclear-armed Pyongyang was unacceptable.

They said in a joint statement that "a nuclear-armed North Korea will not be tolerated" and that the issue "should be resolved through peaceful and diplomatic means," calling on North Korea to act "promptly and verifiably."

"I must say that we do not have any differing opinions on this," Roh said through an interpreter at a joint press conference after the leaders met in the ancient Korean capital of Gyeongju.

Bush gave no ground on Washington's position that North Korea will not get the light-water atomic reactor it wants for generating electricity until it has verifiably dismantled all its nuclear weapons and programs.

"Our position is that we will consider the light-water reactor at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is after they have verifiably given up their nuclear weapons and/or programs," said the US president.

The two leaders also recommitted themselves to six-country talks -- with Russia, China and Japan the other partners in negotiations with North Korea -- and Roh said a new round should start as soon as possible.

Bush met later with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to discuss Iraq and the Middle East peace process and seek his influence to improve the human rights situation in Myanmar.

"The president is interested in having frank discussions with leaders who have influence on that regime on how we can collectively try to improve the situation for the people there," said Mike Green, senior Asia director on Bush's national security council.

The meeting came a day after Roh, who in the past had resisted Bush's hardline approach on the issue, and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed that each side in the talks should show "sincere flexibility."

Bush acknowledged "complexities" in the relationship but said ties between Washington and Seoul had "never been better" and emphasized his support for eventually reuniting the two Koreas.

"There's a real possibility that by working together, at some point in time, the peninsula will be united and at peace," said Bush.

He also praised South Korea's democracy and open economy and thanked Roh for sending some 3,000 troops in support of US efforts in Iraq -- the third-largest contingent behind the United States and Britain.

As the two leaders met, around 500 protesters marched through Gyeongju, ringed by about 1,000 riot police, calling for the withdrawal of the 32,000 US troops based in South Korea.

They erected a mock Statue of Liberty topped with a Bush mask and a machine gun and carried banners saying "No Bush, no APEC, no War".

In the joint press conference, Bush also lashed out at opposition Democrats at home, who have stepped up charges that he twisted intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and convince the United States to go to war.

He said that it was "patriotic as heck to disagree with the president" but that "when Democrats say that I deliberately misled the Congress and the people, that's irresponsible."

Recent polls have put Bush at his lowest popularity levels since taking office and shown that a majority of Americans now doubt his honesty.

After a brief trip to Japan, Bush was here for talks with Roh as well as for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum summit which opens Friday. He was to travel to China and Mongolia before returning to Washington.

By the time he ends a week-long trip to Asia, Bush was to have consulted all of the leaders of his partners in the North Korean talks.

At a previous round in September, the parties issued a joint statement of principles in which North Korea promised to scrap its nuclear programs in exchange for energy assistance and other benefits.

But a day later, North Korea insisted it would not dismantle its nuclear arsenal until the United States supplies it with a light-water atomic reactor.

At last week's talks in Beijing, North Korea raised a new obstacle, accusing Washington of breaching the September agreement by imposing sanctions on its firms.

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China, North Korea, Iran Pose 'Greatest Danger' To US: Poll
Washington (AFP) Nov 17, 2005
China, North Korea and Iran are seen by American opinion leaders as posing the "greatest danger" to the United States, a survey showed last Thursday.

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