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Presidents Lee and Bush Confirm Boosting Ties

Posted April. 21, 2008 05:31,   


President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President George W. Bush spoke to reporters at the presidential retreat of Camp David, Maryland, in their first summit Saturday. They agreed to strengthen bilateral relations and interests based on common values and firm trust, and thereby upgrade two-way relations to a 21st century strategic alliance. The following are excerpts from the joint news conference:

QUESTION: What steps will you take if North Korea refuses to disclose its nuclear program?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The whole objective of the six-party talks and framework is to get them to disclose their weapons programs, is to get them to dismantle their plutonium processing, is to get them to talk about activities, nuclear activities. Why don’t we just wait and see?

PRESIDENT LEE: North Korea’s declaration of their nuclear weapons program should be complete and correct, and [sic] verification. But it’s not right to suspect too much.

QUESTION: I have a question for President Lee. You suggested setting up permanent liaison offices in both Seoul and Pyongyang. What are some of the follow-up effects, if you have any follow-up actions? And do you have any thoughts of proposing a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at an earlier date?

PRESIDENT LEE: The process is not something that we discussed during the summit. I did have a meeting with my staff and related ministries, and I talked about this in detail before I came to the United States. So basically, I [did confirm I will meet Kim if it helps dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program and maintain peace], but I’m not suggesting having a meeting with him anytime soon. If the need arises, again, I’m ready to meet him.

QUESTION: The North Koreans agreed last year to make their disclosure. We’re now in April and we’ve yet to see this disclosure. Are you concerned that given this record, they’re not prepared to make this full disclosure, that they’re stalling the process somehow?

PRESIDENT BUSH: They may be trying to stall. We, the five of us, have made our decision and that is, there’s a way forward. And obviously we hope [Kim] chooses to honor his commitments in a verifiable way.

PRESIDENT LEE: We need persistent patience, ladies and gentlemen. And we need time in order to have a complete resolution of this issue… It’s difficult to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, but it’s not impossible.

QUESTION: I have a question for President Bush. What kind of new movement will you take on -- for instance, the transfer of wartime operational control? And what will you do, President Bush -- do you have any intention to meet with both President Lee and Kim in order to resolve this issue?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I think the president described the relationship as a good one -- a 21st century strategic alliance -- that makes sense to me… It means we work in ways to deal with 21st-century problems. As to the latter point, no, I don’t [intend to meet Kim].