Accessibility links

White House: US Will Not Reward North Korea's 'Bad Behavior' - 2003-04-25

The White House says the future of relations with North Korea depends on the verifiable dismantling of its nuclear weapons program. U.S., North Korean and Chinese officials ended three days of talks in Beijing Friday.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the "preliminary discussions" with North Korean officials were useful, but he repeated Washington's demand that Pyongyang "irreversibly" scrap its nuclear weapons program.

"We were able to express our position directly to the North Koreans in a multilateral forum, and our position is unequivocal: that it is important for North Korea to proceed with the irrevocable dismantling of its nuclear weapons program," he said.

Mr. Fleischer went on to say State Department official James Kelly will return to Washington to consult on the Beijing talks, following meetings in Japan and South Korea.

Mr. Fleischer pointed out that analyzing discussions with North Korea is "always complicated" because he says, "bluster is part of their vocabulary."

"North Korean way of dialogue is often to engage in as bad a behavior as they can possibly engage in, with the expectation that the world will reward them for ceasing their bad behavior," he said. "That has been their previous actions, and the president has made clear that the United States will not reward bad behavior."

According to Mr. Fleischer, President Bush believes the matter can be resolved diplomatically. He stressed the significance of China's role in this week's talks, saying Beijing, like Washington, opposes nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.

Mr. Fleischer said North Korea's admission that it has those weapons is contrary to what China says it supports. That is "notable" he said, as China has "an important stake in this."