President Bush and visiting Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe say they see eye-to-eye on North Korea. The two
leaders are urging Pyongyang to shut down its nuclear weapons programs or
face tougher action. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington.
The two leaders met at the president's Camp David retreat outside Washington on
Friday, after dinner Thursday at the White House.
The talks were wide-ranging, covering issues like the steadfastness of
the U.S.-Japan alliance, cooperation on international issues, nuclear
energy and trade.
At a joint news conference, the two leaders showed their comfort with
each other by repeatedly using each other's first names, George and
Shinzo. President Bush said North Korea dominated much of the discussion.
"We spent a lot of time talking about North Korea and our mutual desire
for North Korea to meet its obligations," said President Bush. "Our
partners in the six-party talks are patient, but our patience is not
unlimited. We expect North Korea to meet all its commitments under the
February 13 agreement, and we will continue working closely with our
The six-party talks involve the United States and Japan as well as
North Korea, China, South Korea and Russia. In February, the six countries
reached an agreement under which Pyongyang is to shut down its main
nuclear facility and permit international inspectors. If Pyongyang meets
deadlines for dismantling its nuclear program, it would receive
substantial energy aid. However, the process was thrown into question
after Pyongyang missed an April 14 deadline to begin shutting down its
facilities because of a dispute over North Korean assets frozen in a Macao
Prime Minister Abe called on the North Koreans to, in his words, "keep
their promise." He spoke through an interpreter.
"They need to respond properly on these issues. Otherwise, we will have
to take a tougher response on our side," said Mr. Abe.
On other issues, the two leaders showed solidarity on international
sanctions against Iran and ongoing reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
President Bush pointed out that Tokyo is the second largest international
donor to Iraqi reconstruction, after the United States.
The two leaders talked about working together to combat climate change
and promote alternative energy resources such as nuclear energy and
The two leaders also touched on the international outrage set off by
the Prime Minister's denial that the Japanese government or military were
directly involved in kidnapping women who were then forced to serve as
prostitutes for Japanese troops in Asia during World War Two. President
Bush called the so-called "comfort women" issue "a regrettable chapter in
the history of the world." But he said he had a heart-to-heart talk with
Prime Minister Abe and that he accepts the Japanese leader's apology.
Meanwhile, President Bush urged Japan not to be afraid of U.S. beef
"It's good beef," added Mr. Bush. "It's healthy beef. As a matter of
fact, I'm going to feed the Prime Minister's delegation a good hamburger
today for lunch."
U.S. beef exports to Japan were about $1.4 billion a year until several
cases of mad cow disease were discovered in the United States in 2003.
After intense negotiations, Japan agreed last year to accept beef from
specially certified U.S. exporters. For 2006, U.S. beef sales to Japan
stood at $66 million.
After the U.S. visit, the Japanese leader travels to the Middle