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Bush: North Korea’s Return to Six-Party Talks Positive Move

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2006 – President Bush expressed optimism over North Korea’s announcement today that it will return to the Six-Party Talks aimed at curbing its nuclear ambitions.

The president commented today in the Oval Office after U.S. State Department officials confirmed that North Korea had agreed to return to the disarmament talks it walked away from last year.

Bush thanked China for its efforts in persuading Pyongyang to return to the talks, which also include the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia. North Korea had hoped to negotiate with only the United States.

“I've always felt like it is important for the United States to be at the table with other partners when it comes time to addressing this important issue,” Bush said today. “And so I thank, not only the Chinese, but the South Koreans, the Japanese and the Russians for agreeing to come back to the table with North Korea.”

The United States will send teams to work with its partners in the region to ensure the talks, when they resume, are effective and achieve the desired results. Bush defined that goal as “a North Korea that abandons her nuclear weapons programs and her nuclear weapons in a verifiable fashion in return for … a better way forward for her people.”

The U.S. teams will also work with their partners to ensure that the U.N. Security Council resolution is enforced, he said. The Security Council called North Korea’s Oct. 8 nuclear test “a clear threat to international peace and security,” and demanded that it end its nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches. The council also voted unanimously to impose strict international sanctions.

Bush said today he’s pleased by progress being made in the Far East but acknowledged, “obviously, we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

He praised Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the groundwork she laid while in the region recently and offered reassurance to the American people. “We’ll continue to work to resolve this in a peaceful way,” he said.

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