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Bush Wants Diplomatic Response to North Korea

President Bush says he will not be drawn into one-on-one talks with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. Mr. Bush says the international community should respond to North Korean missile tests with one voice.

President Bush says the choice is clear for North Korean leader Kim Jung Il, that there is a way forward for him to improve the lives of his citizens by verifiably giving up nuclear weapons, and stopping missile tests.

He says the best way to make that choice clear is through a unified response by those nations engaged in six-party talks with Pyongyang: the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.

"It's best for all of us to go to the U.N. Security Council and say, loud and clear, 'Here are some red lines.' And that's what we are in the process of doing," said Mr. Bush. "You know, the problem with diplomacy is that it takes awhile to get something done. If you are acting alone, you can move quickly."

Speaking to reporters at a news conference in the Midwest city of Chicago, Mr. Bush said rallying world opinion on North Korea and finding the right language for a U.N. resolution takes time.

The U.N. Security Council is considering a Japanese proposal to prevent the transfer of funds, technology and goods that could benefit North Korea's missile and nuclear programs. That measure appears to have broad backing on the council, but Russia and China want a weaker measure without sanctions.

As he continues to pursue a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with North Korea, President Bush says he is not going to get caught in what he calls the trap of sitting at the table alone with Pyongyang.

"My concern about handling this issue bilaterally is that you run out of options very quickly. And sometimes, it is easy for the leader of the non-transparent society to turn the tables, and make a country like the United States the problem as opposed to themselves," he added.

Asked if he thought the North Korean missile launches were an effort to extract more incentives from the international community, President Bush said he does not know the intentions of the reclusive North Korean leader, but he has made clear to allies that there will be no rewarding people who violate past agreements.