- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2004

SANTIAGO, Chile — President Bush, trying to put international pressure on North Korea to return to high-stakes nuclear talks, won support from China yesterday for a tough U.S. approach even before his arrival last night for an international conference in the Chilean capital.

“I believe you can never push too hard for a good purpose,” said Kong Quan, chief spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. He said the biggest barrier was “the extreme, mutual distrust” between Washington and Pyongyang.

No time frame has been set for the resumption of negotiations, the spokesman said. The United States is pushing for early next year.

Mr. Bush arrived here last night. Today he will hold talks with the leaders of China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, his partners in negotiations to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. After three rounds of inconclusive talks, North Korea refused to attend a scheduled fourth session in September, reportedly because it wanted to see who would win the U.S. presidential election.

The North Korea discussions will take place on the sidelines of the annual 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, a group whose far-flung membership ranges from Asia to New Zealand to the Americas.

Yesterday, riot police used water cannons and tear gas to break up a demonstration by hundreds of rock-throwing protesters. Later more than 20,000 people marched to vent their anger at Pacific Rim leaders, particularly the U.S. president.

While some protesters said they oppose the APEC summit, which they likened to a rich man’s club that does nothing for the poor, much of the rage was aimed at Mr. Bush and the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Organizers said 40,000 protesters participated in the government-authorized march downtown, far from the conference center hosting the annual forum. Police put the number at 25,000.

Marchers held up posters saying: “Bush, you stink,” and “Terrorist Bush.” Some chanted: “Bush, listen: Chile is not for sale.”

Some also expressed sympathy with the Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah. One banner read: “Sorry Fallujah. Stupid Americans, Your Turn Will Come.”

The earlier street clashes marked the fourth straight day of confrontations between police and activists opposed to the APEC summit. There were no reported arrests or serious injuries.

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