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U.S. & Japan Issue Warning to North Korea - 2003-05-23

The United States and Japan have warned that North Korea will face tougher international measures if it escalates the crisis over its nuclear development. President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issued the warning at the president's Texas ranch Friday. Tony Riggs reports.

After meeting in Crawford, Texas, President Bush said the two leaders view the nuclear crisis in his words, "exactly the same way".

"The importance of this meeting today should say to the world that Japan and the United States are standing shoulder to shoulder on the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weaponry. I believe that we can solve this peacefully. I believe that diplomacy can work. And as importantly Japan and the United States will not be blackmailed by the North Korean threats. And that’s important for the North Korean leadership to know."

However, Mr. Bush said both leaders feel confident that diplomacy will bring a peaceful solution.

Mr. Koizumi called North Korea's nuclear crisis a "grave challenge" to the world. But neither he nor Mr. Bush explained what kind of tougher measures would be considered against Pyongyang. The nuclear crisis erupted in October 2002 when Washington said North Korea had admitted to a covert program to enrich uranium for nuclear arms.

Mr. Koizumi said Japan's participation in multilateral talks with North Korea is essential to resolve the nuclear dispute.

"And Japan will certainly also seek peaceful resolution. I would like to engage in various ways to appeal to the North Koreans and make them understand that instead of becoming isolated from the international community it is most important for them to become a responsible member of the community of nations."

Mr. Koizumi also talked about the issue of past abductions of Japanese citizens by the communist nation. The Prime Minister repeated Japan's willingness to help reconstruct Iraq and called on the international community to cooperate in bringing peace and stability in the Middle East.