President George W. Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun met in Washington to discuss various issues, including North Korea's nuclear weapons program. In a joint news conference, Mr. Bush said the United States and South Korea share the goal a nuclear-weapons-free Korean peninsula and believe North Korea should return to the six-party talks on its nuclear program:
"The President [Roh] and I both agree the six-party talks are essential to saying to Mr. Kim Jong-il [Communist ruler of North Korea] that he ought to give up his weapons, to making it very clear to him that the way to join the community of nations is to listen to China and South Korea and Japan and Russia - and the United States - and that is to give up nuclear weapons. And we'll continue to work, to have one voice."
Mr. Bush said the U.S. and the other parties to the talks are waiting for North Korea to respond to their 2004 proposal, which is "full of inducements." According to that proposal, North Korea would receive economic and diplomatic benefits once it has verifiably ended its nuclear weapons program.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that the talks between President Bush and President Roh also focused on the U.S.-South Korea alliance:
"Our alliance is very strong. It is an important relationship that we have with South Korea. They are a good ally. They have played a vital role in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and made significant contributions in Iraq, with some three-thousand six-hundred troops that they have provided to help the Iraqi people build a better future. We've also had good cooperation with South Korea when it comes to relocating some of our troops inside the country. South Korea has provided good support while we work to reorganize our posture in order to continue to keep the peace."
The United States and South Korea, said President Bush, remain "strategic partners, and allies, and friends."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.