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Blair, Roh discuss N. Korea nukes

Blair and Roh hold talks in Seoul.
Blair and Roh hold talks in Seoul.

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start quoteWe can't have a situation in which North Korea ... proliferates and exports that technology around the world.end quote
-- Tony Blair

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he has had "detailed and immensely constructive" talks on North Korea's nuclear program with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

Blair said his presence in the region is a sign of the "sense of the urgency" of the nuclear issue, although Roh noted that "calling this situation a crisis is not correct."

The British leader reiterated the desire for multi-lateral talks with North Korea, although Pyongyang has been pushing for bilateral discussions with Washington.

"We want to resolve the issue of North Korea and its nuclear weapons program and the export of nuclear technology by peaceful and constructive dialogue," Blair said on Sunday. "That's why it is important that, in that dialogue, South Korea and Japan are involved as well as North Korea, America, and China.

"We can't have a situation in which North Korea not merely continues to develop a nuclear weapons program, but proliferates and exports that technology around the world."

Despite the focus on North Korea, both leaders were dogged by reporters' questions on domestic issues.

Roh successfully avoided a South Korean reporter's question about fundraising issues, but Blair was put on the spot by a British correspondent regarding the apparent suicide of a former British weapons inspector.

Blair reiterated his call for "respect and restraint" regarding the late David Kelly, who the BBC said was the main source for its report claiming that Downing Street "sexed up" an Iraq weapons dossier.

"I think the right and proper process is that I speak to the judge who is head to inquiry in the way other people will," Blair said. "That is the best way to proceed after what has been a terrible tragedy."

Blair spent about nine hours in South Korea before he headed to Beijing. He also plans to visit Hong Kong and Shanghai.


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