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Bush, Japanese PM Discuss Upcoming North Korea Visit - 2002-09-13

President Bush met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in New York Thursday. The two discussed the Prime Minister's trip to North Korea next week.

President Bush told the Japanese leader that he hopes his first trip to Pyongyang will help convince North Korean leaders that they need to address a broad range of concerns from conventional weapons to weapons of mass destruction and human rights.

North Korean weapons programs were a big part of the leaders' talks in Tokyo earlier this year, following the president's conclusion that North Korea, Iran, and Iraq were part of an "axis of evil" that threatens world peace because they could help terrorists acquire chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

President Bush Thursday made his case against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in a speech to the United Nations. Mr. Bush did not threaten to attack Iraq but said action against Saddam Hussein will be "unavoidable" if he is not forced to disarm.

In his meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi, a senior administration official said the president expressed his determination to act, preferably through the United Nations. But he cautioned that Iraqi threats must be addressed.

The administration official said the president told Prime Minister Koizumi that he supports Japan's economic reform plans. The Japanese leader said he is starting to make some progress on non-performing loans that are hurting the Japanese banking sector.