Answering a question about the North Korean nuclear test, Bush explained his reluctance to engage in direct talks with Pyongyang by saying that the Clinton administration tried such an approach and it did not work. He said that North Korea violated a 1994 agreement in which Pyongyang promised to shut down its nuclear reactor and keep spent nuclear fuel under international supervision, and that the U.S. government promised certain benefits such as providing oil for energy production. Bush's account left out the U.S. government's own role in scuttling that agreement.
"I learned a lesson from that, and decided that the best way to convince Kim Jong Il to change his mind on a nuclear weapons program is to have others send the same message," Bush said at the news conference. He said Pyongyang's defiance of international demands that it give up its nuclear program is a reflection on the North Korean leader, not on any failure by his administration.
BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States said it was planning more one-on-one talks with North Korea in a push to make progress in multinational negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear program.
Chief U.S. envoy Christopher Hill held what he called "lengthy and substantive" negotiations with his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan on Tuesday and said he planned for more of the same as talks entered their third day on Wednesday.
The talks, which group the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and host China, are the first in more than a year, and are taking place in the shadow of North Korea's first nuclear test on October 9.