Wednesday, March 16, 2005

In Asia, Rice Says North Korea More Isolated From Neighbors

By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, March 16, 2005; Page A17

NEW DELHI, March 16 -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asserted Tuesday that North Korea's "isolation from its neighbors has deepened" as it has bolstered its nuclear stockpile in the past year, even as South Korea and China continue to maintain close economic links to the North.

Speaking to reporters as she traveled to India for the first leg of a week-long Asian tour, Rice also brushed aside North Korea's pronouncement Tuesday that it might increase its nuclear arsenal to maintain a balance of power in East Asia and help prevent a U.S. attack. Rice reiterated the administration's position that it had "no intention" of attacking or invading North Korea. She said the Bush administration understood that South Korea needed to seek good relations with its neighbor, but she said "the relationship is not moving as rapidly as it once was" because the North continues to develop weapons.

Rice, who praised nuclear rivals India and Pakistan for reducing tensions in recent years, met with senior Indian leaders Wednesday and was to fly to Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, later in the day for talks there. She will also make her first visit to Afghanistan before flying to East Asia on Friday for discussions about the crisis over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.--------------

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