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South Korean President Discusses North Korea With US Lawmakers


South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has discussed the situation with North Korea, and other issues Wednesdday in talks with members of Congress.

President Roh's visit to Congress coincided with new worries about efforts to get North Korea back to the negotiating table in six-nation talks over its suspected nuclear weapons program.

The South Korean leader spent nearly two hours behind closed doors, meeting with Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives.

He emerged accompanied by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Congressman Ed Royce and Congressman Hastert had these brief remarks.

"It was a great honor and we are very privileged to have President Roh here in this U.S. Capitol today. We had a very lengthy discussion about free trade, about North Korea, about our relationship in the six-party talks. He is certainly knowledgeable and certainly he is a very good friend to the United States and we look forward to furthering that relationship," he said.

The South Korean leader did not make any comments to waiting reporters.

President Roh's visit to Congress came as the House International Relations Committee, chaired by Republican Henry Hyde, approved and sent to the full House for consideration a bill aimed at making it more difficult for North Korea to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The North Korea Nonproliferation Act would allow President Bush to impose sanctions on persons or countries found to be helping the regime in Pyongyang develop weapons of mass destruction.

The legislation would include North Korea under sanctions provisions of the Iran-Syria Nonproliferation Act, which establishes U.S. policy to impose sanctions on anyone found to be transfer such weapons and related goods and technology.

North Korea also figured in congressional debate Wednesday as Democrats, such as Senator Robert Byrd, cited the standoff with Pyongyang as part of their criticism of the Bush administration amid wider debate marking the fifth anniversary of the September 2001 terrorist attacks:

"North Korea, probably reacting to our doctrine of pre-emption and our new-found bellicosity, has increased its nuclear capability," Byrd said.

President Roh [Hoo-Myun] goes to the White House Thursday for talks with President Bush expected to focus primarily on North Korea, along with U.S.-South Korea military issues and trade.

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