Bush: Diplomatic options remain on North Korea
US President Bush on Tuesday said there were still diplomatic options available to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without having to resort to a military strike.
"It's either diplomacy or military. And I am for the diplomacy approach," Bush told reporters at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.
"And so for those who say that we ought to be using our military to solve the problem, I would say that while all options are on the table, we've got ways to go to solve this diplomatically," he said.
For nearly a year, North Korea has boycotted the talks that also involve China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. Concerns that North Korea might be preparing for a nuclear test have added impetus to bringing Pyongyang back to negotiations.
Bush said he was not going to give a timetable for when the diplomatic option might run out. "It's very important for our partners to understand that I believe the six-party talks can and will work."
"Sometimes people move a little slower than American society and the world, and, you know, sometimes expectations around the world are maybe different from ours," Bush said.
"But fortunately, we've got everybody on the same page that says that the idea of North Korea having a nuclear weapon isn't good," he added.
"And so it's a matter of continuing to send a message to Mr. Kim Jong-Il that if you want to be accepted by the neighborhood and be a part of those who are viewed with respect in the world, work with us to get rid of your nuclear weapons program," Bush said of the North Korean leader.
The Pentagon was reassessing the one link between U.S. and North Korean militaries to recover bodies of Americans killed in action during the Korean War, Bush said.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld decided to "reassess" the mission, he said. "And what the secretary of defense has said, 'Let me just take a look and make sure that, as we send people into North Korea, that we're fully mindful of them being able to go in and get out.' No immediate threat, just an assessment, is how I would put it," Bush said.
The Pentagon last week suspended joint efforts to recover the remains of U.S. troops in North Korea and accused Pyongyang of creating an atmosphere that threatened the safety of American workers.