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Bush: Progress Being Made on N. Korean Nuclear Issue


President Bush says he sees progress in efforts to resolve the dispute over North Korea's nuclear moves. The optimism follows indications of a possible shift in Pyongyang's position on multilateral talks.

North Korea has suggested it might drop its demand for one-on-one negotiations with the United States.

A complex statement released Saturday by the North Korean Foreign Ministry indicates Pyongyang will not insist on a particular format. But it also says the United States must make a "bold switchover" in its Korea policy.

The statement did not elaborate on the kind of changes envisioned by North Korea. But the comments from Pyongyang have generated interest in Washington.

President Bush says there appears to be movement in the right direction. "We are making good progress in North Korea," he said. "We have made it clear that we think that the best way to deal with their proliferation is through a multi-national forum. It looks like that might be coming to fruition."

During a brief session with reporters, Mr. Bush stressed that China, South Korea and Japan also have a big interest in the matter.

"That's very good news for the people in the Far East who are concerned about North Korea and their willingness to develop nuclear weapons," he said.

Earlier, the State Department said it expects to follow up on the North Korean statement through appropriate diplomatic channels. South Korea also responded positively, stressing the need to resolve the issue peacefully.