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Bush willing to offer N. Korea a guarantee

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Bush willing to offer N. Korea a guarantee (Star Tribune)



BANGKOK, THAILAND -- President Bush said Sunday that he's willing to commit to a written guarantee not to attack North Korea in exchange for steps by the country toward abandoning its nuclear weapons programs.


Bush's aides said he wants to have a proposal ready for North Korea to consider by year's end, when administration officials hope to restart the six-nation nuclear talks with North Korea that began haltingly in August.


The new approach constitutes a change for a White House that had resisted offering security guarantees that North Korea might consider a concession. North Korea has openly pursued nuclear weapons despite agreeing to freeze its programs in 1994 in a deal with the Clinton administration. Some U.S. officials contend that the country already possesses one or two nuclear weapons.


Bush on SundayCharles DharapakAssociated PressBush ruled out the idea of a formal nonaggression treaty, which North Korea has insisted must be part of an agreement involving nuclear concessions. "We will not have a treaty," Bush said. "That's off the table."


Bush said he would sign a security declaration if it were a joint agreement with the four other countries participating in the talks with North Korea -- China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A senior administration official said Bush had ruled out a bilateral agreement on the principle that if North Korea violated a multiparty pact, "they would not only be dismissive of the United States, but they would also be dismissive of the other parties that participated in the assurance."


Although Bush aides said allies have encouraged the new approach, the immediate public reaction was restrained. Chinese President Hu Jintao, sitting next to Bush after they met Sunday, said simply that he would continue working to promote the six-party talks process "so as to strive for a peaceful resolution of this issue."


Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Russian President Vladimir Putin made public statements that touched on the North Korean talks, but did not address Bush's plan.


North Korean officials have sought security guarantees since Bush labeled the country part of an "axis of evil" that included Iran and the former government of Iraq.


North Korea's response to Bush's new plan is difficult to predict because it has long sought a formal treaty with the United States. The Clinton administration gave North Korea several written assurances about security, but a multinational guarantee is a new concept.


Multilateral pact


Bush discussed the possibility of a multilateral security agreement with Hu on the sidelines of an economic summit in Bangkok. Bush floated the idea with Koizumi on the way to Bangkok last week, and aides said he planned to take it up with South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun today.


Bush and Roh met over breakfast this morning and Bush claimed progress was being made "on peacefully solving" the crisis with North Korea. In his talks with Roh, Bush said, "We have a common goal to make sure that the Korean Peninsula is nuclear weapons free."


Roh, speaking through a translator, said he appreciated Bush's efforts and said, "this issue is very critical."


Bush, who acknowledged to a reporter that he was feeling a bit jet-lagged from his Asian travel during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, also said he would talk with Roh about trade issues and U.S. demands that trade be "free and fair."


On the Korea front, Bush, reiterating a position he first took in February 2002, said he has "no intention of invading North Korea." He said he has made it plain North Korea "must get rid of her weapons program . . . in a verifiable way," and added that he is considering ways to restate that "on paper, with our partners' consent."


While the administration in the past has said North Korea must verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear programs before the administration responds, on Sunday aides set no specific prerequisites.


The administration began hinting at an openness to a security agreement Oct. 10, when Secretary of State Colin Powell said his staff was examining a range of security agreements issued by nations since the turn of the century. He said the research was the result of the fact the North Koreans had "shifted their language" about nonaggression pacts.


Officials said that during a meeting at Camp David the weekend before Bush left for Asia, he formally decided to take the idea to the Chinese. The White House said Bush had a similar discussion with Putin at Camp David at the end of last month.


China in lead


Administration officials suggested that they expect China to take the lead in trying to convince Pyongyang that the guarantee would be an acceptable solution to the impasse. Officials said the idea had been gradually introduced to the Chinese. "If they wash their hands of it, it's not going to work," the senior official said.


In other developments at the APEC meeting:


• Bush made little apparent progress in his drive to persuade China to stop a policy that keeps its currency undervalued compared to the U.S. dollar, making Chinese goods less expensive than U.S. products.


Neither Bush nor Hu directly mentioned the dispute before reporters. However, Hu said, "We both stated our readiness to resolve whatever questions that might emerge in our economic exchange through dialogue."


Privately, Hu told Bush he agreed that market forces should determine exchange rates, but that to do so too quickly would shock China's economy, said a senior Bush official. The official said Hu agreed to set up an "experts group" to study ways China could move more quickly.


• Bush pressed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to help restore democracy in neighboring Myanmar and to push for the release of pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.


Myanmar, also known as Burma, has drawn international criticism for detaining Suu Kyi, and dragging its feet on a long-standing promise to free its political system. The country has been under a military regime since 1962.


Bush said Thaksin gave him a "sympathetic hearing" on the subject and assured him that the two countries share the same goal.


"We care deeply about Aung San Suu Kyi and the status of Aung San Suu Kyi, and we would like to see her free," Bush told reporters.said.


Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since Sept. 26. Before, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner was held incommunicado at an undisclosed location.

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i"m sure this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he is up for reelection

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i think it would be fucking hilarious if kim jong-il offered bush the same deal.







p.s. this is nice and all, no nukes is good news if you ask me, but who the hell is on bush's foreign relations squad and what do they do? coke up, eat donuts, and watch animal house 24/7? somebody needs to notify governor bush that you have to deal with situations specific to whom they involve. in other words, this isn't exactly how you need to approach kim jong-il. do some damn looking into things.


p.p.s. then again, at least it's not a threat. that would be some stupid shit entirely.


p.p.p.s. nice racist caricature, with the chinky eyes and buck teeth. i hope kal draws black people with big lips and watermelon and shit. god bless america.

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