The top US nuclear envoy says Pyongyang has invited experts from the US, China and Russia to visit North Korea next week to conduct a survey of its nuclear facilities.
Speaking on the eve of an Asia-Pacific leaders' summit in Sydney on Friday, US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the invitation is "another significant step" toward the goal of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
Earlier, US President George Bush and his South Korean counterpart, Roh Moo-hyun, met for talks focusing on North Korea, which agreed in February to end its nuclear program in exchange for political concessions and fuel aid
Mr. Bush said a formal peace treaty ending the (1950-1953) Korean War can be achieved only after North Korea fully discloses and gets rid of its nuclear weapons program.
Also on Friday, Mr. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed several issues, including US plans for deploying a missile defense shield in central Europe.
Earlier, in a speech to business leaders, President Bush urged Pacific rim nations to take the lead in world trade talks, and band together to fight global warming and combat terrorism. He also said the United States and other countries must encourage more political openness in China.
Mr. Bush condemned the Burmese government's crackdown on pro-democracy activists, and he called for free elections in Thailand.
After a lunch meeting with Southeast Asian leaders, Mr. Bush invited them to visit him in (the southern U.S. state of) Texas, and said he would soon be announcing an ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Mr. Bush is among 21 leaders taking part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. At APEC sessions beginning Saturday, the leaders are expected to call for a resumption of stalled global trade talks, and push for action on climate change.