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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 October, 2003, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
US, China bid for new Korea talks
Hu Jintao and George W Bush
China is a key mediator for North Korea in talks with the US
The United States and China have said they will work together to restart six-party talks on North Korea's controversial nuclear programme.

US President George W Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao said in Bangkok they would co-operate on advancing the Beijing round of talks which ended in August without success.

Mr Bush earlier ruled out signing a non-aggression pact with North Korea - one of Pyongyang's conditions for taking part in talks on abandoning its nuclear weapons programme.

However, Mr Bush said it might be possible to address the North's security concerns "within the context of the talks" - which also involve Japan, South Korea and Russia.

The two presidents met on Sunday ahead of the Apec summit of Pacific Rim nations.

Their talks also covered trade, the war on terrorism and China's successful space launch earlier this week.

'No invasion'

The US president said perhaps there were other ways to convince Pyongyang that the US would not attack, but he did not elaborate.

"I've said as plainly as I can say that we have no intention of invading North Korea," Mr Bush said.

"And I've also said as plainly as I can say that we expect North Korea to get rid of her nuclear weapons ambitions," he said.

APEC FORUM ISSUES
Regional security and prosperity
Nuclear non-proliferation
Restarting failed world trade talks on opening markets
Creating a fund for fighting terror

Mr Hu said China would continue to strengthen its communications and consultations with relevant partners to promote the Beijing talks.

Earlier this week, North Korea threatened to "physically display" its nuclear deterrent.

Some analysts interpreted the statement as a hint that it would test a nuclear bomb - a move that would dramatically intensify the year-long crisis.

But the US and South Korea dismissed Pyongyang's statement as mere sabre-rattling.

Closer allies

The US president is on the third leg of a six-nation Asian tour, in which he is seeking more support in the US-led war on terror.

He has designated Thailand a non-Nato ally, making it easier for it to buy US military equipment.

BUSH IN ASIA

Thailand's new status with the US means it will gain significant benefits in the area of foreign aid and defence co-operation. The US recently bestowed the same status on the Philippines.

Other countries to have this security relationship with the US include Japan, Australia, Israel, Egypt, South Korea and Argentina.

Mr Bush is expected to use the Apec forum, which takes place on Monday and Tuesday, to urge Asian leaders to help rebuild Iraq.

He arrived in Bangkok from Manila, where on Saturday he told the Philippine Congress that a free and stable Iraq would "serve the cause of peace".

But some Apec ministers meeting ahead of the summit have expressed reservations about the US push to put the war on terror on an equal footing with boosting prosperity.

After Thailand, Mr Bush will also visit Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.


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