Koizumi Joins Bush in Warning North Korea Not to Fire Missile

June 30, 2006

WASHINGTON, June 29 After meeting with Japan's prime minister, President Bush warned North Korea on Thursday that Japan "cannot afford to be held hostage to rockets" and said that it would be "unacceptable" for the North to test a longrange missile.

At a joint news conference, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said the two leaders had agreed to "apply various pressures" on North Korea should it proceed with a test launching.

Neither leader gave any specifics about how they might respond to a test. In the last two weeks, officials have said intelligence agencies have detected signs that a launching may be forthcoming.

"Launching the missile is unacceptable," Mr. Bush said. "There have been no briefings as to what's on top of the missile."

Referring to the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, Mr. Bush continued: "He hasn't told anybody where the missile is going. He has an obligation, it seems like to me, and the prime minister, that there be a full briefing to those of us who are concerned about this issue as to what his intentions are."

North Korea tested a long-range missile once before, in 1998, firing it over Japan into the Pacific and shaking up financial markets, the public and political leaders.

Japanese officials have threatened in the past to cut off ferry service and other trade with North Korea or to crack down on the transfer of cash from Koreans living in Japan back to the North.

"Should they ever launch the missile, that will cause various pressures we would apply various pressures," Mr. Koizumi said, speaking through an interpreter. "And we discussed that. I believe it is best that I do not discuss what specific pressures we were talking about."

The prime minister and the president greeted reporters in the East Room of the White House after their two-hour meeting. North Korea was discussed at length, Mr. Bush said. He issued a pointed reminder that the United States and Japan were cooperating on antimissile technology, calling it an "interesting opportunity" to dissuade North Korea over the long term.

Mr. Koizumi, one of Mr. Bush's closest friends on the world stage, is expected to step down when his term expires in September. He was welcomed Thursday morning with a majestic arrival ceremony at the White House featuring a 19-gun salute, a military color guard, an Air Force brass band and a fife-and-drum corps in Revolutionary-era uniform: bright red jackets, blue tricorn hats and powdered wigs.

But the high point of his stay will be a private presidential tour on Friday of Graceland, the Elvis Presley mansion in Memphis. Mr. Koizumi is a die-hard Elvis fan, and at the start of Thursday's visit Mr. Bush presented him with a jukebox filled with old vinyl 45's, including Elvis tunes.

Mr. Koizumi promptly turned it on, playing one of his favorites, "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You," for the president.

"Officially he's here to see the president," Mr. Bush said at the arrival ceremony. "But I know the highlight of his visit will be paying his respects to the King."

The Graceland trip is partly a reward to the prime minister for standing firmly with the president on Iraq. Mr. Bush praised Mr. Koizumi as "a strategic thinker" and someone who "believes in freedom," and went on to recount a story he used often on the campaign trail, about how his father, the first President Bush, and Mr. Koizumi's father fought on opposite sides in World War II.

"Something happened between our visit to Graceland and when our respective fathers looked at each other with deep suspicion," Mr. Bush said. "And what happened was, Japan developed a Japanese-style democracy based upon shared values."

Despite the closeness there was one delicate bit of diplomacy on the agenda: Japan's recent decision to reopen its markets to United States beef after a ban related to concerns over mad cow disease. Mr. Bush thanked Mr. Koizumi for the move.

"I think the Japanese people are going to like the taste of U.S. beef," Mr. Bush said

To prove it, the White House put steak on the menu for the formal dinner in Mr. Koizumi's honor on Thursday. The main course: Texas Kobe beef.