Secretary of State Colin Powell Thursday again ruled out a U.S. non-aggression pact with North Korea as part of a deal to end that country's nuclear program. But he said there could be less-formal security guarantees for Pyongyang, from the United States and other parties to upcoming six-way talks in Beijing.
The Bush administration has refused to consider a non-aggression treaty with North Korea, saying there should be no reward to Pyongyang diplomatic or otherwise for breaking a series of international nuclear commitments since last year.
But at a news conference with foreign journalists in Washington Thursday, Secretary of State Powell raised the prospect of multilateral security assurances for North Korea, that could be acknowledged or recognized by the U.S. Congress in a resolution.
"There should be ways to capture assurances to the North Koreans from not only the United States, but we believe from other parties in the region, that there is no hostile intent among the parties that might be participating in such a discussion," he said. "When one comes up with such a document, or such a written assurance, there are ways that Congress can take note of it, without it being a treaty or some kind of pact."
Mr. Powell noted that President Bush has on more than one occasion stated that the United States has no intention of invading North Korea, and is looking for a peaceful solution to the problem raised by that country's pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Powell spoke as a senior Chinese delegation arrived in North Korea to lay groundwork for six-party talks in Beijing on the nuclear issue, expected to be held later this month or in September.
The North Koreans, who had been holding out for face to face talks with Washington, dropped that insistence last month and agreed to join the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia in the planned talks in the Chinese capital.
The Bush administration has said it wants a "verifiable and irreversible" end to North Korea's nuclear program and has also indicated that if Pyongyang agreed to scrap the weapons effort, it would open the way to increased aid and political recognition by the United States and other regional powers.