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Bush Says Missile Tests Further Isolate North Korea


President Bush says North Korea's missile tests have further isolated the reclusive regime. European and Asian leaders have joined the United States in condemning the test launches over the Sea of Japan.

President Bush says the apparent failure of North Korea's missile tests do not diminish his desire to resolve the problem peacefully, despite Pyongyang ignoring earlier calls not to fire their missiles.

"Those of us in the six-party talks had asked for that not to happen as a matter of good faith," said President Bush. "The government made a different decision. It is their choice to make. What the firing of these rockets has done is isolate themselves further, and that is sad for the people of North Korea."

President Bush says he is deeply concerned about the plight of the people of North Korea and hopes that the government there agrees to verifiably dismantle its nuclear weapons so North Korea can join the community of nations.

Mr. Bush says the way forward remains six-party talks hosted by China that so far have produced North Korean vows to disarm but have stalled over the timing of promised incentives to do so.

"It is my view that the best way to solve this problem diplomatically is for there to be more than one nation speaking to North Korea, more than America voicing our opinions," he said. "And therefore the five of us - Russia, South Korea, Japan, China, and the United States - spoke with one voice about the rocket launches and we will work together to continue to remind the leader of North Korea that there is a better way forward for his people."

The president spoke with reporters in the Oval Office following talks with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill leaves for Asia Wednesday to meet with allies about the missile tests. White House spokesman Tony Snow says the United States will discuss the way forward with its partners in the six-party talks.

China expressed concern over the missile tests. Russia summoned the North Korean ambassador to explain the launches. Japan raised its military alert status and called for dialogue to resolve the dispute. South Korea called on Pyongyang to return to disarmament talks and stop what it called provocative behavior.

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