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Bush fails to win South Korea's support, calls for patience in Vietnam on Iraq war

Saturday, November 18, 2006

North Korea is a primary target of the Proliferation Security Initiative.
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) -- President Bush, trying to stiffen global resolve to confront North Korea, failed to win South Korea's support today for a tough inspection program to intercept ships suspected of carrying supplies for Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missiles.
Bush sought to persuade South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun to fully implement U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea for testing nuclear weapons. He also sought South Korea's support in the Proliferation Security Initiative, a voluntary international program that calls for stopping ships suspected of trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.
Roh said his country "is not taking part in the full scope" of the security initiative, but that it would "support the principles and goals of the PSI."
Bush met with Roh before the opening of a summit of 21 Pacific Rim leaders. The president tried to put the best face on the disagreement, saying he and Roh have a mutual desire to "effectively enforce the will of the world" through U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea for its nuclear test.
"I appreciate the cooperation we're receiving from South Korea for the Proliferation Security Initiative," Bush said.
"Our desire is to solve the North Korean issue peacefully," Bush said, adding that the United States and South Korea were "allies in peace."
Primary target
North Korea is a primary target of the Proliferation Security Initiative. South Korea has only been an observer to the program out of concern its direct participation in stopping and searching North Korean ships could lead to armed clashes with its volatile neighbor.
The White House acknowledged that Roh faced political pressure back home not to anger North Korea.
Bush "understands political constraints," White House press secretary Tony Snow said. "We just had an election" in which Bush's Republican Party lost control of Congress for the first time in 12 years. Snow said South Korea promised support for the PSI program but he offered no details of Seoul's cooperation.
Divided Americans
Bush was the second U.S. president to visit Vietnam since the war ended three decades ago with U.S. defeat.
In Hanoi, powerful reminders remain of the fighting three decades ago, the longest U.S. war and one that -- like Iraq -- bitterly divided Americans.
Asked if the experience in Vietnam offered lessons for Iraq, Bush said, "We tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take awhile."
He said "it's just going to take a long period of time" for "an ideology of freedom to overcome an ideology of hate. Yet, the world that we live in today is one where they want things to happen immediately."
"We'll succeed unless we quit," the president said.
His talk about impatience brought a rejoinder back home from Sen. Dick Durbin, who will be the second-ranking Democrat in the new Senate.
"I think we ought to show a little impatience when it comes to the Iraqis and their unwillingness to respond to the need to change," Durbin said at a St. Louis news conference. "America has been patient. Our troops have been heroic. ... It is time for the Iraqis to stand up and defend their own country.
In weekend discussions, Bush hoped to coordinate strategy with China, Russia, Japan and South Korea for the resumption of disarmament negotiations with North Korea. Bush was to see Japan's new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, later today.
In all, leaders of 21 nations and territories are gathered here, and it is unclear whether the summit will produce a unified stand toward North Korea.
As for local Vietnamese, the turnout for Bush as his motorcade moved past storefronts was far more subdued that the enthusiastic reception that greeted President Clinton six years ago. A few people waved, but most merely watched impassively. Weary of war, many here deeply disapprove of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Bush's limousine took him along Truc Bach lake, where then-Lt. Cmdr. John McCain, now a Republican senator from Arizona, was captured after parachuting from his damaged warplane. McCain spent more than five years as a prisoner of war.
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