Bush: U.S., South Korea United On N. Korea Nukes Issue
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 10, 2005 President Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun today said their governments are united in keeping the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free.
Standing next to Roh at a White House press conference, Bush told reporters that the U.S. and South Korea "share the same goal, and that is a Korean Peninsula without a nuclear weapon."
North Korea, ruled by strongman Kim Jong-il, is suspected of possessing at least one nuclear weapon and maybe more. Some leaders believe that Kim's regime may be contemplating conducting nuclear tests, which would militarily destabilize the region.
Bush said he and Roh favor using six-way diplomatic talks involving North Korea, the U.S., South Korea, China, Russia and Japan to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons. The North Koreans have blown hot and cold about the talks, but recently indicated they'd come back to the bargaining table.
The six-way discussion framework "is still there," Bush said, noting it's "full of inducements" for Kim to jettison his nukes.
Discrediting media reports citing U.S.-South Korean discord over how to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, Roh declared that his country and the U.S. are "in full and perfect agreement on the basic principles."
The South Korea-U.S. alliance "remains solid, and will continue to remain solid and staunch in the future, as well," Roh said.
Bush said the six-party talks "are essential to saying to Mr. Kim Jong-il that he ought to give up his weapons."
South Korea and the U.S. "are of one voice on this very important issue," Bush said.