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Bush Cautions N. Korea on Threats

October 17, 2001

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush warned North Korea not to try to take advantage of America’s battle against terrorism by moving against U.S. ally South Korea.

``North Korea should not in any way, shape or form think that because we happened to be engaged in Afghanistan we will not be prepared and ready to fulfill our end of our agreement with the South Korean government,″ Bush said in an interview with Asian editors.

``They should not use this as an opportunity to threaten our close friend and ally, South Korea,″ the president said. ``Not only will we have troops there and have them there, we will be prepared to defend and stand side-by-side with our longtime friend, the South Korean people.″

Bush said the North Korean leaders should keep their agreement to open talks with the South Korean government.

``I must tell you that I’ve been disappointed in (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Il not rising to the occasion, being so suspicious, so secretive.″

Bush also described himself as heartbroken over the starving children in North Korea. ``Children are children, regardless of who their leaders are. And I’m sad about that.″

Bush made his remarks in an interview Tuesday with Asian editors. A transcript was released Wednesday.

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