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Analysis: President Bush Meets With Foreign Leaders At Asia Economic Summit

All Things Considered: October 26, 2002



President Bush met today with the leaders of Mexico, Japan, South Korea and other nations from around the Pacific Rim seeking to increase pressure on Iraq and North Korea. The president and his counterparts from Japan and South Korea demanded that North Korea stop developing nuclear weapons immediately, and the president sought support for his get-tough policy on Iraq as well. NPR's Don Gonyea is traveling with the president and filed this report.

DON GONYEA reporting:

These days whenever the president meets with other heads of state, Iraq and North Korea are the dominant topics. This summit, the Asia Pacific Economic cooperation forum, is no different. It comes as the Bush administration is trying to win support at the United Nations for a resolution that would require Saddam Hussein to disarm and include tough consequences if he refuses. To the president, that means the possible use of military force. Here's Mr. Bush today during a photo opportunity with Mexican President Vicente Fox.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, the only consequence, of course, is with Saddam Hussein, and if the UN does not pass a resolution which holds him to account and that has consequences, then as I have said in speech after speech after speech, if the UN won't act, if Saddam Hussein won't disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

GONYEA: President Fox followed with a statement about talks on Iraq. However, he did not express support for President Bush's position. It was the same kind of non-committal response that Mr. Bush heard a day earlier during a meeting at his Texas ranch with Chinese President Jiang Zemin. Another key player which has not backed the US position at the United Nations is Russia. President Putin was supposed to be here in Mexico. He cancelled the trip because of the hostage situation in Moscow.

President Bush's spokesman reacted to the news of the raid ending the takeover by the Chechen rebels, stating that the president mourns the loss of innocent lives, and he said, quote, "The is a reminder to the rest of the free world of the risk that terrorists present."

On the subject of North Korea, the president stressed again that he wants a peaceful diplomatic solution and the dismantling of the North Korean nuclear weapons program brought about as a result of pressure from North Korea's neighbors, some of whom are here this weekend, including South Korea, Japan and China. Don Gonyea, NPR News, with the president in Los Cabos, Mexico.

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