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Bush Calls on North Korea to Clarify its Missile Intentions


President Bush has called on North Korea to tell the world what its intentions are for a long-range ballistic missile recent satellite images show is being prepared for a possible test launch.

Mr. Bush also said today Monday he is pleased China has conveyed a message to Pyongyang that any launch would seen as provocative, and he urged the other three nations, Japan, South Korea, and Russia, engaged in nuclear talks with North Korea to do the same. The disarmament talks have been stalled since November.

Meanwhile, South Korean and Chinese senior officials meet Tuesday for a second day in Beijing to discuss the North Korea situation, and ways to persuade Pyongyang to return to multi-party nuclear talks.

On Monday, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said Seoul is considering - in his words - "clear measures against the North's possible launch of a missile."

Experts say the missile in question -Taepodong 2 has a range capable of reaching the United States. The possibility of a long-range missile test has raised concerns throughout the international community because North Korea says it has nuclear weapons.

White House spokesman Tony Snow Monday clarified recent reports saying the United States is deploying Patriot missiles and hundreds of troops to Japan, and helping Tokyo improve its missile defenses.

Snow says cooperation between Japan and the United States on missile defense is not in response to any specific threat, but part of a program that started last year.

Experts say Patriot missiles are designed to intercept shorter-range missiles, not the type of long-range vehicle satellite images show North Korea may be preparing to test.

Last week, North Korea declared it has the right to test missiles, and is not bound by any previous agreement or statement. Pyongyang has observed a self-imposed moratorium on missile testing since 1999.

The reclusive communist state last tested a long-range missile in 1998. The missile crossed Japanese territory before plunging into the Pacific Ocean.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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