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Strong Statements Mark End of N. Korea Nuclear Talks, says Powell - 2003-04-24


Secretary of State Colin Powell says three-way U.S.-North Korean-Chinese talks in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear program are over and that the two days of meetings were marked by strong statements by the parties. He said the international community is united in insisting on a de-nuclearized Korean peninsula and that the United States and its allies will not respond to threats.

Mr. Powell says the Beijing talks were preliminary and not intended to produce any agreements, and says he hopes the North Korean delegation will return home with a clearer understanding of the depth of world concern about its nuclear program.

Addressing an Asian policy group in Washington, Mr. Powell said the three-way discussions had concluded a day earlier than expected, though he said U.S. and Chinese officials might have a follow-up meeting Friday.

Mr. Powell gave no specifics on the talks other than to say that strong views were presented. But he told a questioner the North Koreans should know they will achieve nothing with threats.

"They should not leave this series of discussions that have been held in Beijing with the slightest impression that the United States and its partners and the nations in the region will be intimidated by bellicose statements or by threats or actions they think might get them more attention, or might forces us to make a concession that we would not otherwise make," he said. "They would be very ill-advised to move in that direction."

The secretary said the one thing that was absolutely clear from the meeting is that there is unity among the international community that the Korean peninsula must not be allowed to become nuclear.

Mr. Powell said the Bush administration wants a diplomatic solution but "will remove no options from the table." He also said North Korea has nothing to fear from ending its nuclear program, and said if it does, nations in the region are ready to help it "out of its isolation, and out of the destitute circumstances in which its people live."

The talks were the highest-level contacts between the United States and North Korea since last October. That is when Pyongyang authorities acknowledged to a U.S. envoy that the country had a covert uranium-enrichment program in violation of various agreements including the 1994 "agreed framework" with Washington that ostensibly froze the North Korean nuclear program.

In his speech to the private U.S.-Asia Pacific Council, Mr. Powell said the U.S. experience with the "agreed framework" made it more apparent that the nuclear question had to be dealt with multilaterally. He said Pyongyang would like to make it a U.S.-North Korean problem, but it is not.

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