Accessibility links

Blair, Roh Consult on N. Korea Nuclear Program

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun have held talks on the crisis over North Korea's nuclear program.

North Korea, Iraq and international trade were key points on the Blair-Roh agenda during their meeting and lunch at the prime minister's Downing Street office.

After the discussions, Mr. Roh said six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program must resume soon to peacefully resolve the crisis. He said there is little chance of a bilateral North-South summit at this time.

The six parties include North and South Korea, the United States, Russia, China and Japan. There have been three rounds of talks under the formula since last year, but little progress. North Korea refused to attend a fourth round of talks in September.

At a news conference, Mr. Blair emphasized the importance of Britain seeking expanded trade with countries such as South Korea without turning its back on traditional European trading partners.

"It's important that we carry on trading, and not just trading with Europe, though 60 percent of our trade is with Europe, but elsewhere in the world as well," Mr. Blair said. "And I see absolutely no inconsistency whatever, indeed the opposite, in being proud of the strength of the British economy and saying that it is important we are also driving the case for economic reform in Europe because that's in the interest of our economy too."

According to British trade figures, Britain receives about 40 percent of all South Korean investments in Europe. Bilateral trade is expected to reach about $9 billion this year, an increase of nearly one-third over 2003.

President Roh is on a state visit, the first ever to Britain by a South Korean president, and he is staying at Buckingham Palace as a guest of Queen Elizabeth.

During his visit, he has paid tribute to Britons killed during the Korean War, opened a Korean high tech forum and met with senior British business leaders.