Bush orchestrates united front for North Korea nuclear disarmament

Counseling resolve and patience, U.S. President George W. Bush is orchestrating a show of unity among Asian leaders to demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Among those gathering here for a 21-nation summit are the leaders of the five countries _ the United States, China, South Korea, Russia and Japan _ negotiating with North Korea for its nuclear disarmament. Bush was meeting Thursday with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun after talks Wednesday in Japan with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that included a call for dismantling &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/366/16142_koreanuclear.html' target=_blank>North Korea's nuclear program.

South Korea has resisted the tough approach advocated by the Bush administration for ending the impasse with North Korea, opposing the idea of military action if diplomacy fails. South Korea also is cool to the idea of taking the standoff to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

"The tone is different sometimes because, of course, for the people of the Republic of Korea, the demilitarized zone is right at their doorstep," said Mike Green, senior director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council.

Green said Seoul, the South Korean capital, is as close to the demilitarized zone separating the two countries and to North Korean artillery as the White House is to Dulles International Airport, some 30 miles outside Washington.

"It's very much a clear and present threat for the people," he said.

Green, talking with reporters on Air Force One as it flew to South Korea, said Bush and Roh would discuss ways to strengthen coordination on foreign policy. The objective was to have the pursuit of North-South reconciliation reinforce the disarmament talks, Green said. One proposal calls for a peace treaty to replace the armistice that halted the 1950-53 Korean War.

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