Was he asked for any assurances at all?
Participants of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)the summit will touch upon economic and political issues. The most important issue will be the North Korean problem connected with Pyongyang's threat to create nuclear weapons which, North Korea believes, will serve a safe instrument to contain "American aggression"
The crisis in the relations between the US and North Korea has lasted for over a year. Today, news agencies have reported that US President George W. Bush said during his meeting with South Korea President Roh Moo-Hyun that Washington was ready to give North Korea multi-lateral security assurances (in addition to the US, North Korea's neighbors - Russia, China, Japan and South Korea - must give their assurances as well. The other day, during his meeting with China President Hu Jintao, George W. Bush said that "these security assurances must be multi-lateral and could not depend upon the US only".
Thus, the situation is quite positive with the US likely to win support of other parties participating in the North Korea problem settlement. However, a problem remains. North Korea insists that the US should be the only country to provide security guarantees. A statement on the issue published in North Korea's central newspaper Rodong Sinmun says that North Korea needs no international security assurances because "none of the neighboring countries is threatening the country. It is the US who poses a threat to North Korea; that is why a non-aggression pact must be concluded directly with Washington." In addition to signing of the pact, Pyongyang insists that diplomatic relations with the US must be established.
The issue of assurances has been already touched upon at a meeting with participation of six parties in Beijing at the end of August 2003. The negotiations were not a success as the North Koreans insisted that their security requirements were not met.
However, Washington cannot satisfy these demands as it would mean Washington has given in to North Korean threats. As has been mentioned above, other participants of the talks are ready to share the responsibility for execution of the international guarantees together with the US. The only thing to be done now is to determine how Pyongyang can be persuaded to accept this proposition. After all, these are problems that require the attention of diplomats, not George W. Bush.