Sun, Nov 19, 2006 - Page 1 News List

N Korea features high on APEC agenda

DAY OF MEETINGS The US president and Japanese prime minister underscored their `common commitment' to addressing the North Korean nuclear dispute

AP , HANOI

US President George W. Bush sought to stiffen global resolve yesterday to confront North Korea about its nuclear weapons, and the White House said world leaders would prod Pyongyang to abandon its weapons program.

National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said the US was pleased with a statement to be issued today by the 21-member APEC forum in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The statement will reiterate concern about North Korea's missile launches earlier this year and its nuclear test explosion on Oct. 9, the White House said.

The statement will also urge the North to comply with a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions following the test, the White House said.

It will also urge North Korea to return to stalled six-country nuclear disarmament talks. North Korea has said it will, but no date has been set.

North Korea was topic No. 1 in the Pacific Rim leaders' daylong series of talks.

Bush met first with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, then talked later yesterday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Bush then held a joint meeting with Roh and Abe. South Korea balked at offering full support for intercepting ships suspected of carrying supplies for the North's nuclear weapons program.

In their separate discussions, Bush and Abe underscored what Bush called "our common commitment" to addressing the North Korean nuclear dispute.

Bush sought to persuade Roh to fully implement UN sanctions imposed on the North for testing nuclear weapons. He also sought Roh's support in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a voluntary international program that calls for stopping ships suspected of trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.

Roh said his country "is not taking part in the full scope" of the security initiative, but that it would "support the principles and goals of the PSI," and would cooperate in preventing the transfer of materials for weapons of mass destruction in northeast Asia.

Bush met with Roh before the opening of the summit of 21 Pacific Rim leaders. The president tried to put the best face on the disagreement, saying he and Roh have a mutual desire to "effectively enforce the will of the world" through UN sanctions imposed on North Korea.

Bush also urged leaders yesterday to do more to prod military-ruled Myanmar to move rapidly toward democracy but praised Thailand's efforts to recover from a bloodless coup, officials said.

Democratic setbacks in Myanmar and Thailand were among key concerns that Bush raised in a meeting with Southeast Asian leaders on the sidelines of the summit, officials said.

Bush told the seven leaders from the 10-member ASEAN that conditions in Myanmar were "totally unacceptable," a Philippine official said.

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