South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is expected to urge President Bush to take a more conciliatory attitude towards North Korea when the two meet Wednesday at the White House. Mr. Roh, who is on his first trip to the United States, is expressing confidence the dispute over North Korea's nuclear weapons program will be solved peacefully.
Mr. Roh says he is determined to work with the United States in convincing North Korea to disarm and to abandon its nuclear weapons program. He says he and the United States share a common understanding that the differences with Pyongyang must be solved at the negotiation table.
"President Bush has also emphasized many times publicly that the nuclear issue will be solved peacefully through diplomatic means," he said.
Mr. Roh, who never traveled out of South Korea before his election last December, is now on his first official visit to the United States. On Tuesday, he spoke at a gathering of Korean and American business leaders in Washington.
The South Korean leader made it clear he will not condone Pyongyang's program to develop nuclear weapons, saying North Korea must disarm as soon as possible. North Korea announced earlier this week it was backing out of a pact with the South to keep the Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons.
The Bush administration said last month that Pyongyang admitted during talks with Chinese and U.S. officials to possessing nuclear weapons. However, Mr. Roh expressed optimism.
"North Korea came to the negotiating table last month. The three-party talks represented a meaningful beginning of a process to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue," he said. "There will be numerous difficulties ahead, but trust will be established among parties and the door to peaceful resolution will open if the parties involved engage in dialogue with sincerity."
The Bush administration says it is committed to a peaceful resolution, but insists it wants to keep all options open.