The Bush administration is seeking a new relationship with North Korea but is not offering economic assistance as an incentive for terminating its nuclear weapons program, Secretary of State Colin Powell says.
"We have put no economic proposals forward at the moment," Powell said Wednesday as U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials met at the State Department to forge a common strategy designed to induce North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
The delegations resumed their deliberations for nearly two hours on Thursday to deal with technical and logistical matters, a U.S. official said. Japanese and South Korean delegates left the building, saying only that the talks were over. There was no immediate U.S. statement.
Powell has offered to put in writing assurances that the Bush administration does not intend to attack North Korea.
"We are looking for a different relationship with North Korea," he told reporters.
Powell also noted that President Bush "has said many times that he is concerned about the welfare of the North Korean people. It concerns him that people are in need and starving."
A State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, said the 90-minute meeting reflected a joint desire for a verifiable and irreversible termination of North Korea's nuclear program.
The talks continued over dinner.
The three governments were preparing for negotiations with North Korea that are due to begin Aug. 27 in Beijing. China and Russia also will take part in the six-nation talks.
China's foreign minister confirmed the starting date in a brief announcement read on the national even newscast of China Central Television — the government-controlled broadcaster.
Taking a hard line, President Bush said at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, that the United States and Asian nations "feel strongly about the peninsula being nuclear-free."
Mr. Bush said North Korea failed to keep its word and developed enriched uranium after reaching an agreement with the Clinton administration to freeze its nuclear program.
But with Russia and China joining the negotiations "we're making good progress," President Bush said.
In Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov said Russia and China may offer North Korea security guarantees as a way of easing nuclear tensions "if guarantees established by the United States fail to meet North Korea's expectations to the full."
"North Korea's wish to have security guarantees looks absolutely logical, and there is every indication it will be insisting on them," Losyukov told ITAR-Tass, the state news agency. "Russia and China have an identical vision of the situation."
In Sydney, Australia, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage praised China for helping to bring North Korea to the negotiating table. "Indeed, I think we can say that anything that can be accomplished in the region can and will be accomplished more effectively with the active participation of the People's Republic of China," Armitage said.
North Korea seeks a nonaggression pact from the United States. While Powell has ruled that out, he has said there might be a way to put U.S. assurances in writing and have Congress take note of it.
Whether this hint of a congressional resolution but not an agreement ratified by the Senate would satisfy Pyongyang was not clear as the U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials met at the State Department.