WASHINGTON (AP) – Top Bush administration officials said yesterday the time still isn’t ripe for one-on-one talks with North Korea, despite concerns that North Korea is moving rapidly to develop new nuclear weapons.

Any lasting solution to the North Korean problem will need the support of Russia, China and other nations, Secretary of State Colin Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said in separate television interviews. North Korea opposes multilateral talks.

“I think eventually we will be talking to North Korea, but we’re not going to simply fall into what I believe is bad practice of saying the only way you can talk to us is directly, when it affects other nations in the region,” Powell said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

Powell, on Fox News Sunday, said that during his visit to the United Nations last week, he worked with diplomats to develop a multinational approach to North Korea.

Democrats are pressing the Bush administration to begin direct talks immediately. They say that while the administration has been paralyzed by indecision and distracted by Iraq, the threat posed by North Korea has spiraled.

In recent months, North Korea has expelled U.N. monitors, withdrawn from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and moved to restart a a nuclear reprocessing facility that could produce bombs within months. It is believed to already have one or two bombs.

Most recently, North Korean fighter jets intercepted a U.S. reconnaissance plane and the Pentagon sent 24 bombers to the region.

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