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N. Korea Wants to Negotiate; White House Says 'Not Yet'


The White House says it is not willing to talk to North Korea until Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear weapons program. The North Koreans are telling the American news media that they want negotiations.

A top North Korean diplomat is quoted by The New York Times as saying his country wants to negotiate. But the White House said, "not yet."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the United States wants action, not words. He said North Korea knows it must first dismantle its nuclear program and honor its treaty obligations.

Speaking to reporters traveling with the president to the state of Illinois, Mr. Fleischer stressed once again that the United States is consulting with its allies on North Korea. He said the goal is to convince Pyongyang to live up to its agreements.

In 1994, North Korea promised to halt its nuclear weapons program in exchange for western energy aid including two nuclear power reactors.

Last month the State Department said it had confronted North Korea with evidence of a secret enriched uranium facility operating in violation of the 1994 deal. Officials said at first the North Koreans dismissed the evidence, but later acknowledged the existence of the enrichment program.