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Bush, Jiang Want Diplomatic Resolution of N. Korea Nuclear Issue - 2002-10-25

China and the United States have agreed to work together to stop North Korea's nuclear weapons program. President Bush and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin discussed the issue Friday at the president's ranch in Texas.

President Bush stressed the United States and China are together in maintaining peace and security in North East Asia.

"Both sides will continue to work toward a nuclear-weapons-free Korean peninsula and a peaceful resolution of this issue," he said.

President Jiang said he was not aware of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. He added that Beijing and Washington have agreed to try and resolve the situation diplomatically.

"China has all along been a supporter of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and wants peace and stability there," he said. "I agreed with President Bush that we would continue to consult on this issue and work together to assure a peaceful resolution of the problem."

Earlier this month, North Korea admitted that it has a nuclear weapons program. That violates a 1994 accord with the United States under which Pyongyang was to scrap its nuclear weapons program in exchange for nuclear power plants and other aid.

North Korea Friday said it wants a "non-aggression pact" with the United States to resolve the nuclear weapons issue. A Foreign Ministry statement says that pact must recognize North Korean sovereignty and give assurances that Washington will not hinder economic development.

In addition to China, President Bush said he is also consulting with South Korea, Japan, and Russia to come up with what he calls "a common strategy" to convince North Korean leader Kim Jung-Il to disarm.

"Our first step to make sure we resolve this peacefully is to work with our friends, is to remind our friends of the dangers of a nuclear regime on the Korean peninsula," he pointed out. "President Jiang made it clear that China, like the United States, believes in a Korean peninsula without nuclear weapons."

President Bush will discuss North Korea's weapons program Saturday with South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the sidelines of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Mexico.