President George W. Bush visited South Korea to meet with South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun. After the meeting, President Bush declared that he felt that ties between the two countries have "never been better."
The two leaders issued a joint declaration in which they reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance, which has helped secure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula for the past fifty years, and discussed a number of issues of concern, including North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and inter-Korean relations. President Bush and President Roh agreed that "a nuclear-armed North Korea will not be tolerated," that North Korea should eliminate its nuclear weapons programs promptly and verifiably, and that the issue "should be resolved through peaceful and diplomatic means."
They indicated they look forward to progress in the fifth round of talks on this issue. They urged that the talks should be dedicated to implementation of the Joint Statement agreed to in September, in which North Korea committed to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs. President Bush and President Roh concurred that resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue is essential for establishing durable peace on the Korean Peninsula.
President Bush expressed support for South-North reconciliation and pledged to continue close cooperation and coordination as it develops. In discussing the plight of the people of North Korea, the two Presidents pledged to continue to seek ways to improve their condition.
In a speech given in Japan shortly before his arrival in Korea, President Bush cited South Korea as an example for other Asian nations:
"We will not forget the people of North Korea. The 21st century will be freedom's century for all Koreans -- and one day every citizen of that peninsula will live in dignity and freedom and prosperity at home, and in peace with their neighbors abroad."
As President Bush told President Roh, the Republic of Korea has "shown how economic prosperity and political freedom go hand in hand for the good of the people."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.