WASHINGTON – The United States will continue pressing North Korea to resolve the abductions dispute during the six-party talks aimed at disbanding Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal, President George W. Bush said Wednesday.
Bush also hopes an agreement will be reached on a long-range goal for curbing greenhouse gas emissions at the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido next week, he said in an interview with Japanese news organizations ahead of the summit.
On North Korea, Bush said he believes the six-way talks are “the best way to effect change in the North Korean regime” over outstanding issues ranging from Pyongyang’s nuclear drive to the abductions of Japanese nationals.
“I view the six-party talks as a framework to convince the North Korean government to deal with these serious issues,” he said, noting it is in Japan’s best interest to have the U.S. and other nations helping Tokyo on the abduction issue.
The comments came after Washington moved — against Tokyo’s will — to cross Pyongyang off its list of terrorism-sponsoring countries in reaction to the North’s submission of a long-delayed declaration of its nuclear activities.
Bush went as far as to say that unless North Korea deals squarely with the nuclear and abduction issues, the U.S. is willing to impose sanctions on Pyongyang with Japan and the other six-way partners — China, South Korea and Russia.
“We’ll, of course, work with our partners. Now, for example, these won’t be unilateral sanctions. These will be multiparty sanctions,” he said.
Bush has said the U.S. “will never forget” the abduction issue. Wednesday’s remarks are thought to suggest he has laid out a specific course to be taken to help resolve the issue.
Japan had urged the U.S. to refrain from taking North Korea off the terrorism list until progress was made on the abduction issue.
Bush also recalled his encounter with Sakie Yokota, the mother of abductee Megumi, at the White House in 2006, saying, “I can understand the mom’s concerns.
“I got to see firsthand in the Oval Office how her sense of anguish and hurt that her sweet daughter had been abducted,” he said. “So I understand the emotions of the issue.”
As for global warming, Bush voiced hope for an accord on a long-term target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to be reached at the G8 summit, which will take place in Toyako, Hokkaido, from Monday through Wednesday.
“I’m hopeful we can strike an agreement,” he said.
But he hastened to stress the need for any agreement to be shared with other major polluters, namely China and India, thus calling for an agreement at a summit of the U.S.-led Major Economies Meeting forum to be held on the sidelines of the G8 summit.
“I caution everybody that such an agreement must have all of us who create greenhouse gases — not just those of us around the table at the G8,” he said.
“My own view is that there’ll never be an effective agreement unless China and India are at the table,” he said. “So we’ll work to set the conditions so that people understand that in order to be effective, all of us who are creating greenhouse gases must agree to the long-term goals and develop effective interim plans.”
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which targets a minimum 5 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012 from 1990 levels, will expire in 2012. Neither the U.S. nor developing countries are part of the agreement.
The United Nations is aiming to hammer out an agreement on a post-Kyoto regime at a 2009 conference in Copenhagen to build on a long-range goal that the U.S. is seeking to set by the end of this year.
The Major Economies Meeting consists of the G8 along with Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico and South Africa, plus the European Union and the European Commission.