With fresh support from China in hand, US President George W. Bush hopes to minimize public differences with Asian allies over how to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions and come back to the bargaining table.
On the sidelines of a weekend-long economic summit with Pacific Rim leaders, Bush met yesterday in quick succession with all four of the US' partners in now-stalled talks with the communist regime.
China was first up, and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) said after the meeting, "We ... exchanged views on the question of Taiwan. I expressed my high appreciation to Bush's adherence to the `one China' policy and the three communiques, and to his opposition to [Taiwan's] independence."
A senior Chinese government official, appearing in Santiago on Friday, said China will push for North Korea to resume negotiations.
"I believe you can never push too hard for a good purpose," said Kong Quan, chief spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Meetings with the leaders of Japan, South Korea and Russia were to follow.
Believing that having all five partners on the same page from a high-profile international summit will have an impact on North Korea, Bush's goal is a tough united front reinforcing a demand that North Korea completely give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons and insisting that any talks with Pyong-yang occur only with all the partners present.
With North Korea demanding economic aid and US guarantees of nonaggression as incentives, South Korea and China, in particular, have suggested it may be necessary to be more flexible.
"We've put forward a realistic proposal and we're not interested, none of us are interested, in sort of negotiating among ourselves at this point," a senior White House official said. "There is something concrete to talk about; the North Koreans need to come back to the table to talk about it."
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