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Bush, South Korean Leader Urge North to Return to Nuclear Talks

President Bush says the United States and South Korea share the same goal of convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. Mr. Bush's remarks came during talks at the White House with his South Korean counterpart, Roh Moo-hyun.

President Bush says the way for North Korea to join the community of nations is to listen to countries in the six-party talks that are urging Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program.

With South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun at his side, President Bush said both countries speak with one voice on the issue.

"South Korea and the United States share the same goal, and that is a Korean peninsula, without a nuclear weapon, and that is what we have been discussing, how best to do that," president Bush said. "The president and I both agree the six-party talks are essential to saying to [North Korean President] Mr. Kim Jong-il that he ought to give up his weapons."

Mr. Roh, in his fourth meeting with President Bush, said the United States and South Korea are in full agreement on basic principles, and whatever minor differences the two sides have can be worked out with dialogue.

Earlier this week, North Korean diplomats indicated they were willing to rejoin the talks, but set no date for the discussions, which have been deadlocked since last June.

However, a North Korean official also said this week the communist regime already has a nuclear stockpile and is building more weapons.

President Bush says a proposal offering incentives for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear arsenal is still being offered by the nations in the six-party talks.

"Last June, we did lay out a way forward and it is not just the United States," he said. "This was a plan that the United States and South Korea and China and Japan and Russia put on the table, and the plan is still there. It is full of inducements."

North Korea has never formally responded to the proposal made last year.

Under the plan, if Pyongyang ended its nuclear weapons programs, South Korea and other nations would provide immediate energy assistance to North Korea.

Pyongyang would then have three months to disclose its programs, while the United States and its allies would draft a multi-lateral security agreement.