U.S. President George W. Bush bluntly told South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on Friday that the United States would formally end the Korean War only when North Korea halts its nuclear weapons program.
The comment came in a testy exchange between the two leaders after they held talks that were dominated by the international standoff over the communist North's pursuit of atomic weapons.
In front of television cameras, they agreed there had been progress, but then had a back-and-forth that was remarkable in the diplomatic world of understatement and subtlety.
Roh pushed Bush to be "clearer" about his position on an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War. The two Koreas were divided by the conflict, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, meaning they still remain technically at war.
The leaders' tone remained light, but Bush responded firmly: "I can't make it any more clear, Mr. President. We look forward to the day when we can end the Korean War. That will happen when Kim Jong Il verifiably gets rid of his weapons programs and his weapons."