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US and S Korea 'united' on North

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US and S Korea 'united' on North

The US and South Korea have brushed aside tensions over North Korea, saying they "speak with one voice" on Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun discussed the issue with US President George W Bush at the White House.

They disagree over how to deal with North Korea, which has refused to join six-party talks, but stressed a desire for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

North Korea said this week that it has nuclear weapons and is building more.

The US has grown increasingly frustrated with South Korean insistence on continued engagement with North Korea, which has repeatedly refused to rejoin talks on disarmament and has pressed ahead with weapons development.

The BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says that while the show of unity was there on Friday, it was cursory and utterly lacking in detail.

Sanctions opposed

Mr Roh admitted that there are "one or two minor issues" but said he was confident they can be resolved.

"We'll continue to work to have one voice," Mr Bush told reporters.

"Six-party talks are essential to saying to Mr Kim Jong-Il that he ought to give up his weapons, and making it very clear to him that the way to join the community of nations is to listen to China and South Korea and Japan and Russia and the United State, and that is to give up nuclear weapons."

US officials say more coercive measures will be needed if North Korea does not return to the negotiating table.

But South Korea, along with China, opposes any talk of sanctions. It has been calling for more flexibility from the United States.

The left-leaning government of Roh Moo-hyun is wary of the Bush administration's intentions and worries about hostile rhetoric directed at the North Korean leadership.

Public sentiment also remains suspicious of the United States, with many South Koreans blaming the US for provoking the confrontation, correspondents say.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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