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Bush Optimistic North Korean Situation Can Be Resolved


President Bush says the seven missile launches this week by North Korea provide an opportunity for the world to come together to deal with Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. The president says he is optimistic diplomacy will succeed.

The president has now discussed the missile launches with the leaders of all the other countries that have been involved in negotiations with North Korea: Russia, China, South Korea and Japan. He indicates the North Korean tests have galvanized opinion around the world.

"I view it as an opportunity to get the Chinese and the South Koreans and the Japanese and Russians to work with us and send a clear message that this is unacceptable behavior," said Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bush spoke during a rare hour long televised interview. He told CNN's Larry King that the only way to deal with North Korea is through a multi-lateral approach.

"We have all sent a signal to him. He has ignored us. Now we need to send another signal," he said. "And just speak with one voice. This issue is one that will be solved when the international community works in concert."

The president was also asked about the incentives package put before Iran to convince Tehran to suspend nuclear enrichment activities, and why no similar offer was made to North Korea.

Mr. Bush stressed the two situations are very different. He said Pyongyang was offered incentives by his predecessor Bill Clinton and later broke commitments made to curtail its nuclear program.

"A president looks not only at what his administration has tried, but what have others have tried.," Mr. Bush added. "And there have been incentive packages laid out for the North Koreans, which they took. And then they did not honor the commitment they made."

In the course of the wide-ranging interview, the president also talked about the war in Iraq and its impact on his popularity at home and abroad. He said he does not worry about public opinion polls because he is confident he made the right decision when he launched the invasion that removed Saddam Hussein from power. He also vehemently denied Iraq has so occupied his time and attention that other world hot spots have received insufficient attention.

Mr. Bush talked in general terms about the war on terror, and admitted he fears another major attack like the one that occurred on September 11, 2001.

"I think we are safer," he said. "But I am worried about an enemy that wants to hit us again. And I am comforted by the fact that there is a lot of people working hard on the issue."

The president also spoke briefly about the recent election in Mexico, where final official tallies show a narrow victory by ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon. He said he looks forward to working with the new Mexican leader.

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