BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) – President Bush said yesterday for the
first time that the United States, China and other nations may try
to defuse a crisis with North Korea by offering Pyongyang written
security assurances in exchange for a commitment to scrap its
nuclear weapons program.
Bush rejected North Korea’s demand for a formal no-invasion
treaty, saying, “That’s off the table.” But he left the door open
for a security pledge, agreed to by several countries, that would
fall short of an actual treaty.
Nuclear tensions hung over today’s opening of a 21-nation summit
of Asian-Pacific leaders, along with disputes over trade and the
U.S. occupation of postwar Iraq. On the economic front, China
refused to give ground in a currency argument with Washington.
Bush was meeting over breakfast today with South Korean
President Roh Moo-hyun to explore how to end the North Korea
impasse. It was at the top of the agenda yesterday when Bush met
with Chinese President Hu Jintao, who pledged to encourage North
Korea to return to multiparty nuclear talks soon.
With at least two nuclear weapons in its arsenal, North Korea
startled the world last year when it admitted to running a secret
weapons program. In August, talks between the United States, China,
Russia, Japan and the two Koreas in Beijing ended without agreement
on a next round.