- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 26, 2002

CRAWFORD, Texas President Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin said yesterday that they both oppose North Korea's nuclear-weapons program and declared that they will work together to find a peaceful solution.

"We agreed that peace and stability in Northeast Asia must be maintained," Mr. Bush said in a brief joint press conference with the Chinese leader at Mr. Bush's Texas ranch. "Both sides will continue to work towards a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and a peaceful resolution of this issue."

Mr. Jiang, who asserted that Beijing was "completely in the dark" about North Korea's recently disclosed secret nuclear-weapons program, said: "I point out that China has all along been a supporter of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, and wants peace and stability there.

"I agreed with President Bush that we will continue to consult on this issue and work together to ensure a peaceful resolution of the problem," Mr. Jiang said.

In the 30-minute news conference, Mr. Bush also urged Mr. Jiang to support a proposed U.N. resolution authorizing the use of military force if Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein refuses to disarm of his weapons of mass destruction.

"Let me put it bluntly: There must be consequences in order to be effective. And, therefore, in order for there to be consequences, we won't accept a resolution which prevents us from doing exactly what I have told the American people is going to happen. That is, if the United Nations won't act and if Saddam won't disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him," the president said.

While Mr. Jiang said nothing about the Iraqi situation, Mr. Bush asserted that China "supports Iraq's strict compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions" calling for Baghdad to get rid of all its weapons of mass destruction.

A proposed U.S.-backed resolution making the rounds at the United Nations declares Iraq in "material breach" of U.N. resolutions and warns Iraq of "serious consequences" if it attempts to thwart U.N. weapons inspections wording that Russia and France fear the United States could interpret as sufficient for military action.

China, as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, along with the United States, Russia, France and Britain, has the power to unilaterally veto any resolution. Beijing, however, has indicated that it might abstain in any vote.

Mr. Bush said the resolution "must be one which does the job of holding Saddam Hussein to account. That includes a vigorous, new and vibrant inspections regime, the purpose of which is to disarm, not inspections for the sake of inspections," he said.

At the United Nations in New York, China's U.N. ambassador said his country still had reservations about the U.S. draft resolution on Iraq, particularly the words "material breach," which could be used to trigger a military strike.

"I do not like the words, because it could have different interpretations," Ambassador Wang Yingfan told reporters.

Asked whether China would abstain if the U.S. draft resolution was pushed to a vote, Mr. Wang said Beijing had not made a decision. But he said he hoped to vote in favor of a resolution, "which may be accepted by all."

On North Korea, which Mr. Bush has branded part of an "axis of evil" with Iraq and Iran, the United States has ruled out negotiations with leader Kim Jong-il until Pyongyang dismantles its newly disclosed program to enrich uranium.

Mr. Bush meets with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung today during the annual summit meeting of 21 Pacific Rim leaders in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Mr. Bush is expected to discuss the situation in North Korea with the two leaders.

While U.S. officials have not ruled out imposing new economic sanctions on North Korea, the South Korean president came out firmly against a sanctions regime in a statement issued before he left for the meeting in Mexico.

"What I firmly believe is that it should be settled through dialogue, not economic sanctions or war," he said.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to influence administration officials at the summit meeting today, North Korea offered a nonaggression pact with the United States.

"If the United States legally assures the DPRK [North Korea] of non-aggression, including the non-use of nuclear weapons against it by concluding such treaty, the DPRK will be ready to clear the former of its security concerns," the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.

A senior Bush official dismissed the pact, saying world leaders must persuade North Korea to disarm.

"The next step is to mobilize as much international pressure as possible against the North Korean program," the official said.

In their 90-minute meeting at the Prairie Chapel ranch, Mr. Bush and Mr. Jiang also discussed human rights issues. Mr. Bush said he told Mr. Jiang that "no nation's efforts to counter terrorism should be used to justify suppressing minorities or silencing peaceful dissent."

"I shared with the president my views on the importance of China freeing prisoners of conscience, giving fair treatment to peoples of faith and preserving the rights of Hong Kong citizens. I also spoke of the importance of respecting human rights in Tibet and encouraged more dialogue with Tibetan leaders," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Jiang said, "I told President Bush that democracy and human rights are the common pursuits of mankind and that China's human rights situation is at its best time, characterized by constant improvement.

"Regarding our differences in these areas, the Chinese side stands ready to continue exchanging views with the U.S. side on the basis of mutual respect and seeking common ground while shelving differences, with a view to deepening understanding and enhancing consensus," he said.

The two leaders continued to disagree on the fate of Taiwan. Beijing views the island as a breakaway province. Mr. Jiang reiterated China's policy of peaceful reunification under a "one country, two systems" model, while Mr. Bush said Washington's "one China" policy was unchanged. The administration has expressed concerns about Beijing's growing missile buildup opposite the island. Mr. Bush has pledged to militarily support Taiwan in the event of an attack from mainland China.

"We intend to make sure that the issue is resolved peacefully, and that includes making it clear that we do not support independence," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush also announced that Vice President Richard B. Cheney will visit China in the spring.

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