Union Tribune

October 26, 2002 

Bush can't sway Jiang about Iraq
But leaders agree on N. Korea


CRAWFORD, Texas President Bush yesterday gained China's
support for the effort to end North Korea's nuclear weapons
program, but failed to persuade Chinese President Jiang Zemin
to back the U.S. position on disarming Iraq.

"China has all along been a supporter of a nuclear-free Korean
peninsula and wants peace and stability there," Jiang said at a
brief news conference with Bush at the end of their four-hour
visit at the president's ranch.

But Jiang insisted he was "in the dark" about the nuclear

The meeting launched an intense weekend of diplomatic and
trade talks for Bush, who travels today to Mexico for talks with
leaders from Asian and Pacific nations.

The session with Jiang, the third between the two presidents,
included the now-familiar truck tour of the 1,600-acre ranch. 

With Bush behind the wheel, Jiang inspected the rolling Texas
countryside while the two leaders' wives rode in the back seat of
a large pickup truck. As they returned from the tour, the
president learned of the fatal crash of the plane carrying Sen.
Paul Wellstone, D-Minn. 

The Chinese leader, who is expected to relinquish his leadership
titles at China's 16th Party Congress next month, indicated he
had been surprised by North Korea's recent admission that it is
developing nuclear weapons, despite commitments to abandon
the program.

"We are completely in the dark as for the recent development,"
Jiang said. But Jiang stressed that he and Bush "agreed that the
problem should be resolved peacefully."

Even as Jiang and Bush met, representatives of Pyongyang
blasted the U.S. president as a warmonger.

North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, Pak Gil Yon,
contended that the United States is planning a pre-emptive
strike against his country, insisting that North Korea is "entitled
to possess not only nuclear weapons but any type of weapon
more powerful than that so as to defend its sovereignty and right
to existence."

North Korea also demanded a nonaggression pact with the
United States before it would give up its nuclear weapons.

The North Koreans argued that they could not give up their
nuclear arms without assurances that Washington would not
launch a nuclear strike first.

On Iraq, Bush pressed ahead despite the reluctance of China to
back the tough U.S.-backed resolution.

"China supports Iraq's strict compliance with U.N. Security
Council resolutions," said Bush, sidestepping talk of specific

The lighthearted tone that marked Bush's prior sessions with
world leaders at his ranch was broken by the news of Wellstone's

A somber U.S. president opened the joint news conference with
remarks about the crash, and Jiang similarly expressed China's

The tone also was affected by the recent disclosure of North
Korea's nuclear weapons program, pushing that issue to the top
of an agenda for a meeting once viewed as merely a swan song
for an outgoing Chinese leader.

In a briefing after Jiang left the ranch, a senior administration
official said the North Korean crisis will be a major topic as well
this weekend when Bush joins the leaders of 19 other Asian and
Pacific nations at a conference in the Mexican resort of Cabo San

While the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference has an
agenda of promoting trade, it, too, will see intense discussions of
the political and diplomatic crises.

"Our next step is to mobilize as much international pressure as
possible against the North Korean program," the administration
official said, adding that Bush plans to discuss the crisis today
with South Korean and Japanese leaders. "We are at the
beginning of a campaign to mobilize the world against this
program," he said.

Addressing the Iraq crisis, Bush continued his tough-talking
insistence that the United Nations crack down on Saddam
Hussein with a resolution authorizing punishment for

"Let me put it bluntly," he said. "There must be consequences in
order to be effective. . . . We won't accept a resolution which
prevents us from doing exactly what I have told the American
people is going to happen. That is, if the U.N. won't act and if
Saddam won't disarm, we'll lead a coalition to disarm him."

The amicable tenor of the presidential summit continued the
steady improvement of relations between Washington and
Beijing, which have worked steadily to overcome the tensions
that surged last year in the early months of the Bush
administration when a U.S. reconnaissance plane and a Chinese
jet collided near the Chinese coast.

Bush hasn't repeated his early declarations that the United States
would do "whatever it takes" to defend Taiwan from a possible
invasion from China.

China, meanwhile, has backed off earlier threats to use force to
reclaim Taiwan, which it regards as a rebel province. 

China has also responded calmly as the U.S. military has moved
heavily into South Asia to battle terrorism, and as the United
States has successfully wooed the government of Pakistan, with
whom China had developed close ties.

Jiang insisted that his rapidly industrializing country is more
interested in economic development than in pursuing an
expansionist foreign policy.

"Our central task and long-term goal remain one of economic
development and improvement of people's living standards. The
Chinese people have a tradition of peace-loving," he said.

As the diplomatic spotlight shifts today to Mexico, massive
security is expected to be in place at the conference, just as at
last year's conference in China. That meeting took place just six
weeks after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States.

Bush had planned a working lunch today with President Vladimir
Putin of Russia. But Putin canceled his trip after Chechen rebels
seized hundreds of hostages in Moscow, demanding the
withdrawal of Russian troops from the breakaway province.