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Powell Says He is Confident of Diplomatic Solution to N. Korea Crisis - 2003-03-09


Secretary of State Colin Powell says he is confident the North Korean nuclear crisis can be resolved diplomatically, but reiterated that the United States wants other nations involved in any dialogue.

Appearing on the U.S. television program Fox News Sunday, Secretary Powell said the United States is not ignoring "the threat in North Korea," but said the Bush administration favored a multilateral approach.

Mr. Powell brushed aside Pyongyang's demand for bilateral talks. He said despite previous bilateral agreements with North Korea to freeze its nuclear program, with the Clinton administration and with South Korea in the 1990's, North Korea had begun alternate nuclear weapons efforts.

"And we can't fall into that trap again of paying them off to stop what they are doing only to discover that they are doing it again at a later time," he said.

"We're looking for a comprehensive solution that will allow us to assist North Korea with its problem of feeding its population and economy that's not functioning."

Secretary Powell said the United States, China and other countries in the region want a denuclearized North Korea. Secretary Powell said that, last week at the United Nations, he held discussions with representatives of several countries about getting together a group for talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis.

In an appearance on the ABC television program This Week, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said the only way to get North Korea to disarm is through multilateral talks.

"The real incentives for North Korea to do what it must do, and that is to undo its nuclear weapons program, to step back from the brink, the real incentives will come from the collective weight of the international community, not just the United States alone.

Ms. Rice said that is the only way the United States and its allies are certain to get an agreement with Pyongyang that dismantles North Korea's nuclear weapons program, not just freezes it.