Bush to N. Korea: Disclose nuclear plans

Other News Materials 15 December 2007 04:55 (UTC +04:00)

( AP ) - President Bush said Friday that he got Kim Jong Il's attention by writing the North Korean leader a letter and that Kim can get his attention by fully disclosing his nuclear programs and proliferation activities.

The White House said Kim verbally responded through a diplomatic channel on Tuesday to a letter Bush sent to him earlier this month. The letter, the president's first to the leader of the communist regime, was viewed as a personal gesture from Bush, who once branded North Korea as part of an "axis of evil."

"I got his attention with a letter and he can get my attention by fully disclosing his programs, including any plutonium he may have processed and converted some of that into whatever he's used it for. We just need to know," Bush said in the Rose Garden after a meeting with his Cabinet. "As well, he can get our attention by fully disclosing his proliferation activities."

"An important step is a full declaration of programs, materials that may have been developed to create weapons, as well as the proliferation activities of the regime."

A senior U.S. official with knowledge of the contents of North Korea's message said it contained what appeared to be a pledge from Pyongyang to follow through on its denuclearization deal as long as the United States held to its end of the bargain.

North Korea began disabling its plutonium-producing reactor last month under watch of U.S. experts. In exchange, the U.S. agreed to seek normalizing ties with North Korea and remove the country from terrorism and trade sanctions blacklists.

"We'll live up to our side, we hope you'll live up to yours," the official paraphrased Kim's message as saying. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private diplomatic exchange.

The message was the country's first official response to the letter from Bush.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the message was delivered through channels in New York, where North Korea has its only diplomatic mission in the United States at the United Nations.

"We heard it via the New York channel," he said. "It was an oral message and it was on Tuesday."

He declined to comment on the details of the message and referred questions about it to the White House.