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Musharraf: Pakistan Not Cooperating with N. Korea - 2003-11-06

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says Pakistan is not cooperating with North Korea on military and weapon issues, and it has not done so since he took office. President Musharraf issued his denial during a visit to South Korea, where he is meeting with South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun.

Mr. Musharraf, has dismissed accusations that his country aided Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. At the same time, the president is acknowledging that at one time, his country did cooperate on military matters with North Korea.

Mr. Musharraf, who met with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun Thursday, told local media that there has been no defense collaboration between Pakistan and North Korea since he took office four years ago -- reconfirming his previous denials.

It has been more than a year since the dispute over North Korea's nuclear program erupted in October 2002, when U.S. officials said the Stalinist state admitted to running a nuclear program in violation of international non-proliferation pacts.

During that time, U.S. media reports have repeatedly accused Islamabad of supplying Pyongyang with the designs for equipment needed to produce weapons-grade uranium. In addition, last March the United States sanctioned a Pakistani firm for allegedly transferring nuclear-capable missiles to North Korea.

In an interview with the English-language Korea Herald newspaper, the Pakistani president said he backs the multilateral talks aimed at curbing the North's nuclear ambitions, calling the year long stand-off a "grave crisis." However, he stopped short of offering support for international demands that Pyongyang permanently give up its nuclear program

South Korean officials say Mr. Musharraf's meeting Thursday with President Roh focused on that dispute and also on bilateral issues such as trade. Islamabad is eager to attract more South Korean investment to Pakistan. Trade between to the two nations is currently worth $700 million annually.