U-S officials say the Bush administration is pursuing a diplomatic solution to the crisis over North Korea's plans to revive its nuclear program.
Secretary of State Colin Powell told a German newspaper (Sueddeutsche Zeitung) the United States does not have hostile intentions toward Pyongyang, but does want the isolated Stalinist state to keep its promise not to operate nuclear plants believed capable of manufacturing nuclear weapons.
Mr. Powell says Washington wants to avoid increasing tension that flared suddenly last October after U-S officials said North Korea admitted to pursuing its nuclear program in violation of a 1994 agreement.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters that the White House has asked Congress for more than three-million dollars to keep active an international consortium set up nine years ago to monitor the accord. Mr. Boucher says the move will help preserve U-S options toward seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Under the 1994 agreement, North Korea agreed to freeze its plutonium processing program in exchange for a promise of two Western-designed nuclear power plants and supplies of fuel oil until the plants were built.
Meanwhile, South Korean president-elect Roh Moo-Hyun has urged Washington to begin talks with Pyongyang. Mr. Roh, who takes office next month, says he thinks North Korea would welcome talks because it has no other realistic choice.