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THE WORLD

U.S. Reportedly Weighed Attack on North Korea

January 19, 2003|From Times Wire Services

SEOUL — High-ranking U.S. officials considered attacking North Korea before agreeing to seek a peaceful solution to the standoff over its nuclear program, South Korea's president-elect said Saturday.

Roh Moo Hyun was elected last month, just as the North Korean regime in Pyongyang declared that it would reactivate nuclear facilities capable of making material for bombs.

"At the time of the elections, some U.S. officials who held considerable responsibility in the administration talked about the possibility of attacking North Korea," Roh told a panel of university professors on TV. He described the U.S. officials as "hard-line." Roh did not say how he knew about the discussion, but he is close to outgoing President Kim Dae Jung.

U.S. officials did not comment directly on the claim but stressed that President Bush is seeking a diplomatic solution.

"The president has made it clear the United States has no intention of invading North Korea, and he has indicated he wants to find a peaceful resolution," White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said.

U.S. Ambassador Thomas Hubbard said today on South Korean TV that Washington is ready to go beyond food aid and to consider economic cooperation with the North to get it to abandon its nuclear goals. Richard L. Armitage, deputy secretary of State, said Friday that the U.S. would be willing to provide security assurances. But he said Congress would never approve a nonaggression treaty, as Pyongyang has demanded.

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