- The Washington Times - Monday, October 28, 2002

LOS CABOS, Mexico In a rare show of political unity, 21 world leaders yesterday demanded that North Korea "give up nuclear weapons," threatening economic consequences for the fragile communist nation but stopping short of a call for full sanctions.
On the closing day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), held at this seaside resort town, the leaders spoke with one voice about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"We call upon the DPRK to visibly honor its commitment to give up nuclear weapons programs and reaffirm our commitment to ensure a peaceful resolution of this issue," the statement said.
The APEC nations, which include most countries that border on the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, Russia, Mexico, Canada and the United States, said North Korea must do away with its secret nuclear arsenal to secure peace in the region.
"We uphold that a nuclear weapons-free Korean Peninsula is important to the peace and stability of the Peninsula and Northeast Asia, and is also in the interests of all members of the region," the APEC statement said.
The statement fell short of the desires of the Bush administration, which had hoped APEC leaders would condemn the nuclear program and call for isolation of North Korea.
The statement followed one Saturday by President Bush, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung in which the three leaders agreed only to call upon Pyongyang to "dismantle this program in a prompt and verifiable manner."
Still, administration officials saw yesterday's statement as a first step toward further economic consequences should North Korea resist pressure to end its nuclear program.
"We note the potential for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to benefit economically from greater participation as a member of the Asia-Pacific community," the APEC statement said. "Such a prospect will rest upon a nuclear weapons-free status on the Korean Peninsula."
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said that declaration, and another made Saturday by the leaders of South Korea and Japan, were forceful. In diplomatic language, "it doesn't get much stronger than what they did," he told reporters aboard Air Force One after the summit.
The statement concluded a short visit by Mr. Bush, who flew in Saturday and departed yesterday before lunch, even though he had been scheduled to join leaders there.
Though officials, including top ministers and even Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, pressed other leaders to support a U.S. resolution in the United Nations to authorize the use of force against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, not a single one did.
Mexico's President Vicente Fox, whose country currently sits on the U.N. Security Council, appeared to go out of his way to voice opposition to the U.S. proposal at the United Nations.
Mr. Fox said that the APEC conference had a "general position" that would require "searching through the Security Council for consensus" and sending weapons inspectors to Iraq first before threatening military action.
Mr. Powell on Saturday voiced pessimism that the U.S. resolution would fail when it is voted on this week at the United Nations, the first Bush official to deliver such a warning.
In other APEC action, the leaders called terrorism a direct threat to trade liberalization and agreed to cooperate in the fight against it with "concrete steps" to protect and streamline the movement of goods, people and data.
They also agreed on a U.S.-crafted proposal to overhaul the Pacific Rim's tradeways, tightening security on millions of shipping containers, fortifying cockpit doors in airliners and strengthening customs cooperation.
In addition, the leaders called on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to conduct assessments of countries' efforts to stop the flow of money to terrorists.
The leaders' statement also commended Russia, Indonesia and the Philippines for their "prompt and decisive efforts to find and bring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of terrorist acts to justice."

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