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Allies may give N. Korea some security assurances

Monday, September 8, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The United States will consult with its allies about what kind of security assurances they can offer North Korea to get the communist country to end its nuclear weapons program, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday.

During recent six-nation talks in Beijing, North Korea said it would disarm if the United States would resume free oil shipments, provide economic and humanitarian aid, sign a nonaggression treaty and open diplomatic ties.

"Right now, the first challenge before us is to get North Korea to say clearly that they are prepared to give up entirely their nuclear weapons program in a verifiable manner," Powell told ABC's "This Week."

"And we know what they want from us -- the only thing they have asked for from us, the United States, is some sort of security assurance," he said.

Powell said that other issues, such as economic aid, that the North has raised with other countries "might be done as we move down this road. That's not on the table right now."

For Powell, "Step one is an end to their program in a verifiable way -- their commitment to an end to that program. It won't be ended in one meeting or with one statement. It's going to take time."

Powell was asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" about a reported comment by a top State Department official, Assistant Secretary of State John Bolton, that U.S. policy was to end North Korea as it currently is constituted.

"We know the kind of regime this is. ... But our policy right now is not to invade or to overthrow it," Powell said.

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