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Last Updated: Monday, 20 October, 2003, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
N Korea dominates Apec summit
Apec summit leaders meeting
Security issues took centre stage at the talks
The United States and South Korea have called for a fresh round of talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

US President George W Bush and his South Korean counterpart Roh Moo-hyun made the call on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit in Bangkok.

But the call was overshadowed by reports that North Korea had test-fired a short range missile on Monday morning.

The North has tested missiles at sensitive times before, but the latest test came as the US and its allies stepped up work on negotiating a settlement with Pyongyang.

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

The US has hinted at a new solution to the stand-off.

President Bush, on the third leg of a six-nation Asian tour, was upbeat on the subject during talks with Mr Roh.

"We're making good progress on peacefully solving the issue with North Korea," Mr Bush said.

Mr Bush and Mr Roh issued a statement calling on North Korea to resume talks on the issue, and "refrain from any action which would exacerbate the situation".

On Sunday, the US leader ruled out the formal non-aggression treaty with the North that Pyongyang is demanding, but hinted that there may be room for some other form of written security pledge.

Expanding on Mr Bush's comments in a speech to business leaders on Monday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he would spend the next few days and weeks fleshing out US proposals to defuse the North Korean nuclear crisis with America's allies.

Missile launch

According to the South Korean and Japanese Governments, a short-range missile was launched from North Korea's eastern coast at around noon local time (0300 GMT) on Monday.

A Japanese defence official said the launch posed no immediate threat to neighbouring countries. It was believed to have been fired into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan.

North Korea had test-fired short-range missiles at least twice this year before Monday's reported incident.

In 1998, North Korea alarmed the world when it flew a longer-range ballistic over the Japanese mainland.

At the Apec summit, the US emphasis on the fight against terrorism has upset some delegates, who believe the organisation should stick to its stated mission of promoting free trade.

APEC MEMBERS
Australia
Brunei
Canada
Chile
China
Hong Kong
Indonesia
Japan
Malaysia
Mexico
New Zealand
PNG
Peru
Philippines
Russia
Singapore
South Korea
Taiwan
Thailand
US
Vietnam

Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Apec was set up as an economic and trade body and should not be dominated by security issues.

But the US insisted that terror was threatening regional economies.

"Every nation, every economy represented here, every business, every leader, every one of us is a potential target for terrorist activities," Mr Powell said.

Apec members are also due to discuss the need for a better co-ordinated response to Sars, should the disease return, and to build up defences against other infectious diseases or bio-terrorism attacks.

Mr Bush is also expected to use the forum to urge Asian leaders to help rebuild Iraq.

Nuclear threat

Mr Powell reiterated that impoverished North Korea must give up its nuclear programme, which is incurring sanctions and stalling diplomatic relations.

"You cannot eat plutonium," he said.

But he repeated Mr Bush's reassurances on Sunday that the US was not about to attack North Korea.

He said that instead, Washington had presented its allies with "expanded ideas" about how to give security assurances to Pyongyang.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's James Wooldridge
"The North Korea nuclear issue has dominated proceedings so far"



SEE ALSO:
Nuclear moves ease tensions
20 Oct 03  |  Asia-Pacific
China to study currency shift
19 Oct 03  |  Business
Apec summit heads for trade clash
17 Oct 03  |  Business
Thailand's mass Apec clean-up
16 Oct 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Thailand downplays missile claim
01 Oct 03  |  Asia-Pacific
China's yuan tops summit agenda
04 Sep 03  |  Business
World trade blocs: APEC
03 Sep 03  |  Business


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