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APEC to Issue Statement on North Korea

White House officials say the APEC summit in Vietnam will issue a joint statement Sunday on North Korea's nuclear ambitions. VOA White House correspondent Paula Wolfson reports from Hanoi that the North Korean controversy is hanging over this annual gathering of Pacific Rim nations.

White House National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley says work on a statement on North Korea is almost complete.

"There is a statement. I think, it's pretty well agreed," he said. "There are a couple of issues remaining, dealing mostly with the form, not the substance of the statement."

Another White House official says the statement will express concern over North Korean missile launches and last month's nuclear test. He says it will call on North Korea to come into compliance with United Nations demands, and return to the six-party talks on its nuclear program.

While in Hanoi for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, President Bush is meeting with leaders of the four nations involved with the United States in the negotiations with Pyongyang, starting with South Korea.

The United States wants South Korea to actively participate in an international program to intercept North Korean ships that could be carrying materials for nuclear weapons.

South Korea has refused, in large part because it is concerned about possible North Korean retaliation. At the end of his meeting with President Bush, South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun said he will do all he can to stop North Korea's nuclear ambitions, short of boarding ships.

President Roh says, although South Korea supports the principles and the goals of the Proliferation Security Initiative, it will not intercept North Korean ships.

A few hours later, President Bush met with the new leader of another country involved in the six-party talks with North Korea - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"We spent a lot of time talking about North Korea and our common commitment to see that the six-party talks succeed," he said.

On Sunday, Mr. Bush will continue his campaign for a strong international stand on North Korea as he meets with the presidents of China and Russia.