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Thursday, 28 December, 2000, 18:09 GMT
Clinton will not visit North Korea
North Korea shows off military might
The US is worried about Pyongyang's missile programme
US President Bill Clinton has said he will not visit North Korea before he leaves office on 20 January.

It had been hoped the president would go to Pyongyang after US Secretary of State Madelaine Albright made a historic visit to the secretive Communist state in October.

Mr Clinton says missile talks should be pursued
The United States is concerned about North Korea's missile programme and has been working on a bilateral agreement to end it.

"There is not enough time while I am president to prepare the way for an agreement with North Korea that advances our national interest and provides the basis for a trip by me to Pyongyang," said Mr Clinton.

But he urged his successor, President-elect George W. Bush, to build on his administration's efforts to halt North Korea's missile development and proliferation.

"There is sufficient promise to continue this effort" and the nation "has a clear national interest in seeing it through," he added.


The US has indicated it is willing to consider a North Korean offer to give up its missile programme, including the export of missiles and related technology, in exchange for assistance in launching civilian satellites.

Mrs Albright and Kim Jong-il
Mrs Albright visited in October
Talks were held in Washington in November to try and make further progress on a deal to end the missile programme.

The proposals also include promises of US help for the devastated North Korean economy.

But the Americans said "significant issues" remained unresolved after the meetings.


Washington remains concerned North Korea could build a rocket capable of delivering a bomb over a US city by 2005.

Missile test
Pyongyang alarmed the region with its 1998 missile tests
The US is also worried that Pyongyang is exporting missile technology to countries such as Iran, Libya and Pakistan.

North Korea rattled the world when it test fired a missile over Japan in 1998.

Pyongyang insisted the launch was aimed at putting a satellite into orbit.

But it was also seen as a demonstration of the North's ability to fire long-range warheads.

Mr Clinton praised the engagement policy of South Korea's President Kim Dae-jung who recently won the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts to end hostilities on the peninsula.

"Let me emphasise that I believe this process of engagement with North Korea, in co-ordination with South Korea and Japan, holds great promise and that the United States should continue to build on the progress we have made," he added.

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See also:

03 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
No deal in N Korea missile talks
25 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Albright: Openness key to Korean peace
24 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea's dramatic turnaround
23 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Mrs Albright's visit
24 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Korean missile breakthrough
12 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Stalemate ends N Korea missile talks
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