APEC leaders, worried about nuclear proliferation, urged North Korea yesterday to take concrete steps to live up to its commitments to stop developing atomic bombs.
"We express our strong concern over the July 4-5 missile launches and Oct. 9 nuclear test conducted by [North Korea], which poses a clear threat to our shared interest of peace and security and our shared goal of achieving a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula," said a statement by the 21-member APEC forum.
The statement was presented orally at the end of the closed-door leaders' summit, underscoring sensitivities over the issue as well as concerns by some APEC nations about interfering in other countries' affairs. It later was read by Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet at a news conference after reporters asked him about it.
US National Security Council official David McCormick denied that getting only an unpublished, oral statement from the summit represented a setback, and said the White House was pleased with the toughness of the wording.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he didn't know why the oral statement wasn't included in the final declaration.
"We are seeking an explanation for that," Harper told reporters. "We don't understand why it wasn't included since it was a joint statement and it was unanimous."
US President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao (
Hu made no mention of North Korea in his remarks, but Liu said Hu had called for "wisdom and patience" in dealing with Pyongyang.
Bush stressed the need for UN member states to comply with a UN Security Council resolution that banned trade of goods and transfer of funds to the North that could aid its nuclear arms programs.
Later in the day, Bush met Russian President Vladimir Putin and again discussed both North Korea and Iran.