Meeting set on North Korean nukes

November 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The White House said Saturday representatives of the nations trying to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program have agreed to meet next month. White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters after President George W. Bush's meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak that there was an agreement to have the meeting but that announcement of the actual date in early December would be left up to China to make public.

The goal at the meeting would be to get agreement on the verification of North Korean's nuclear declaration and disabling of its nuclear facilities.

In announcing that the countries had agreed on the date for the next round of six-party talks, Perino said, "They have it worked out and China will announce it. There is a sense that this meeting will happen."

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters there is unity among the leaders involved in the six-party talks as they try to get North Korea to give up its nuclear bomb-making process by allowing inspectors to verify what is being done inside the secretive country.

Attending his final global summit at a time of severe financial crisis, Bush urged other countries on Saturday not to repeat mistakes that turned a similar calamity seven decades ago into the Great Depression.

He said that nations should spurn calls to erect protectionist trade barriers and keep pushing to liberalize trade.

"One of the enduring lessons of the Great Depression is that global protectionism is a path to global economic ruin," Bush said in comments to business executives of Pacific Rim countries.

Bush was in Lima to attend his eighth and final meeting of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Bush said he understands that countries are being hurt by the financial crisis, which started in the United States. But he said that because the economic problems are so widespread, all nations - both developed and developing nations - must work together to find solutions.

He warned that it's also essential that nations resist the "temptation to overcorrect" to fix the fiscal crisis. Bush has argued that it would be a mistake to over-regulate financial markets, saying what is needed is better regulation not more regulation.

"Recovering from the financial crisis is going to take time, but we'll recover and so begin a new era of economic prosperity," Bush declared.

Bush was hoping to use his final APEC summit to get endorsement of a sweeping action plan to attack the global financial crisis that was drafted last week in Washington at a meeting of the Group of 20 nations, which include the world's richest economies plus major developing nations such as China, Brazil, India and Russia. Nine of the countries at the G-20 meeting are also members of APEC.

Bush said that the APEC meeting could send a message that "we refuse to accept protectionism in the 21st century."

The two-day summit was taking place following another bad week for financial markets as investors became more fearful about the prospects of a deepening global recession.

Bush said that when he took office, the United States had free trade agreements in effect with only three countries but now has free trade agreements in force with 14 nations. It is "extremely disappointing" that Congress just adjourned without passing three pending deals with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, Bush said to hearty applause.

Bush also said it was important for nations to push ahead to complete global free trade talks known as the Doha Round. The APEC countries are expected to endorse a pledge to complete a framework for the Doha talks by the end of December.

These discussions, which began seven years, ago have been stalled for some time by disputes between rich and poor nations over farm trade and barriers to manufactured goods.


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