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US says N. Korea leader reacted positively to letter

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Associated Press / December 15, 2007

WASHINGTON - Kim Jong Il has responded positively to President Bush's personal letter to the North Korean leader, and Bush called on Kim yesterday to fully disclose his country's nuclear programs and proliferation activities.

The White House said Kim responded through a diplomatic channel Tuesday to a letter Bush sent to him earlier this month. The letter was the first to the leader of the communist regime, which Bush once said was part of an "axis of evil."

"I got his attention with a letter and he can get my attention by fully disclosing his programs, including any plutonium he may have processed and converted some of that into whatever he's used it for. We just need to know," Bush said in the Rose Garden after a meeting with his Cabinet.

A senior US official with knowledge of the contents of North Korea's message said it contained what appeared to be a pledge from Pyongyang to follow through on its denuclearization deal as long as the United States held to its end of the bargain.

North Korea began disabling its plutonium-producing reactor last month under watch of US observers. In exchange, the United States agreed to seek normalization of ties with North Korea and remove the country from terrorism and trade sanctions blacklists.

"We'll live up to our side, we hope you'll live up to yours," the official paraphrased Kim's message as saying. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private diplomatic exchange.

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