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Bush:  Peaceful Solution to North Korean Nuclear Issue Possible

President Bush says he is working with other countries to convince North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons program and believes the matter can be resolved peacefully. The president says he plans to raise the issue later this week when he meets with the leaders of China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

President Bush says North Korea's acknowledgment of a secret nuclear weapons program is troubling news. He says nations must unite to put pressure on Pyongyang.

"This is a chance for people who love freedom and peace to work together to deal with an emerging threat," he said. "I believe we can deal with this threat peacefully, particularly if we work together. So this is an opportunity to work together."

Mr. Bush says he looks forward to discussing the matter Friday at his Texas ranch with Chinese President Jiang Zemin. "I look forward to good discussions with the president of China about how we can work together to take our relationship to a new level in dealing with the true threats of the 21st century," he said.

The president says he plans to hold more talks the next day at the Asia-Pacific summit in Mexico with the leaders of Japan, South Korea and Russia.

"I view this as an opportunity to work with our friends in the region and work with other countries in the region to ally against the proliferation of serious weapons and to convince Kim Jung Il that he must disarm," he said.

North Korea acknowledged operating a secret nuclear weapons project earlier this month. It violates a 1994 agreement which provides Western aid in exchange for Pyongyang's promise to freeze its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea admitted running the program after being confronted with evidence by U.S. officials. On Monday, the North offered to deal with American security concerns through dialogue.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with NATO Secretary General George Robertson, President Bush made no mention of the offer.

Earlier, his spokesman offered a noncommittal response to the words from Pyongyang. Ari Fleischer said only that the administration is reviewing all options regarding North Korea.