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Saturday, 16 February, 2002, 15:29 GMT
Bush renews North Korea warning
Anti-Bush demonstration in Seoul
Bush's "axis of evil" comments have caused disquiet
US President George W Bush has issued a fresh warning to North Korea ahead of his six-day tour of Asia.

In his weekly radio address, recorded before he left Washington on Saturday, Mr Bush expressed support for negotiations between North and South Korea to end the stand-off between the two nations that has lasted nearly 50 years.

But he added: "I will remind the world that America will not allow North Korea and other dangerous regimes to threaten freedom with weapons of mass destruction."

George W Bush leaves on his tour
Bush: Seeking support for widening of war on terror
It was the latest in a series of hawkish comments by senior figures in the Bush administration following the president's characterisation of North Korea, Iraq and Iran as an "axis of evil".

Mr Bush's comments, which he made as he outlined his plans for his tour of South Korea, Japan and China that begins on Sunday, are likely to cause renewed disquiet in the region about Washington's military intentions.

Political activists in South Korea are planning demonstrations during the president's visit, while the North's state-run radio has called Mr Bush "the most evil and war-crazed president in the history of the United States".

The Bush administration has offered to resume talks with North Korea, as long as the agenda includes the US demand that the country cut its conventional forces.

It is also demanding that Pyongyang start talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency on the nuclear reactors it is due to receive under an international agreement.

Junichiro Koizumi
Japan's PM will be urged to make "bold reforms"
During his visit to South Korea, Mr Bush will travel to the demilitarised zone set up at the end of the Korean War in 1953.

There he will meet US troops supporting the South Korean forces, which face North Korea on the world's last Cold War border.

The president described the zone as "one of the most dangerous places on earth, where barbed wire marks a line dividing freedom and oppression".

Mr Bush's first stop on his tour will be Tokyo, where he will urge Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to take steps to lift the world's second-largest economy out of recession.

In his radio address, Bush said: "I'm confident that Japan will make the bold reforms needed to restore growth and opportunity, which will benefit the people of both our nations."

'World beyond terror'

After leaving Japan and visiting South Korea, Mr Bush will fly on to China, where trade and human rights will be the main focus.

Beijing will be urged to open up its markets to US agricultural products, the president said.

"And I will express my hopes that as China moves forward, it... will embrace the universal demands of human dignity, freedom of conscience and religion, and the rights and value of every life," he added.

Mr Bush, who is due to address troops in Alaska on Saturday before flying on to Tokyo, is also seeking support for widening the US-led war against terrorism.

"I look forward to discussing our progress in ridding the world of this great threat to civilisation, and we'll discuss our work to build a better world beyond terror - a world of greater opportunity and more open trade, stronger security and more individual freedom," he said.

The BBC's Nick Bryant
"North Korea is certain to dominate the president's visit to Seoul"
See also:

16 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Concerns cloud Bush's Korea policy
16 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea marks leader's birthday
13 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
US offers N Korea 'unconditional' talks
06 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Korean activists protest against Bush
01 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea hits back at US
15 Feb 02 | Americas
US 'has support for Iraq attack'
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