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Bush: Diplomacy to Solve North Korean Nuclear Threat - 2003-01-07

President Bush says international diplomacy will ultimately solve the crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. But Mr. Bush is still taking a different approach with Iraq, where he says Saddam Hussein must surrender all weapons of mass destruction.

When it comes to confronting world threats, President Bush says "different circumstances require different strategies."

In a speech in the city of Chicago Tuesday, Mr. Bush discussed two of the biggest threats, North Korea and Iraq, and his different approaches to resolving them.

On North Korea, where the government is reopening facilities that could be used to produce nuclear weapons, the president says he has no intention of using military force in what he calls a "diplomatic showdown." Instead, he is pursuing a common approach with China, Japan, and South Korea to convince Pyongyang to stop its nuclear weapons program.

"By working with countries in the region, diplomacy will work. We have no aggressive intent, no argument with the North Korean people. We are interested in peace on the Korean peninsula," he said.

On Iraq, where U.N. inspectors are searching for weapons of mass destruction, the president says he is ready to use military force if Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein does not comply with U.N. resolutions and disarm.

"The world's demands are clear. For the sake of peace, Saddam Hussein must disarm himself of all weapons of mass destruction and prove that he has done so," he said. "Should he choose the other course, in the name of peace, the United States will lead a coalition of the willing to disarm the Iraqi regime of weapons of mass destruction and free the Iraqi people."

Iraq and North Korea are both part of what the president calls an "axis of evil." Mr. Bush says North Korea is a regime that is "attempting to defy the world." He says Iraq is a regime that "lives by violence and deception" and is "arming to threaten" the world.

While his approach to the conflicts is different, Mr. Bush says his goal is the same.

"Our resolve in each case will be clear. We will not permit any regime to threaten the freedom and security of the American people or our allies and friends around the world," he said.

As more U.S. troops head toward the Persian Gulf and a possible war with Iraq, U.S. diplomats met with Japanese and South Korean officials Tuesday to discuss how best to convince North Korea to give-up its nuclear weapons.