The postponement follows indications from the North Koreans that they might consider President George W. Bush’s proposal to provide a written guarantee that the United States will not attack North Korea as part of a multilateral agreement.
“Discussions continue between our delegation and North Korean officials,” Weldon stressed. “The members of the delegation still believe that a congressional visit will positively impact relations between our two nations. In that regard, the North Koreans continue to make overtures that our delegation will have access to the Yongbyon nuclear facility,” where the North Koreans say they have reprocessed spent fuel rods to use in their nuclear weapons program.
Representative Solomon P. Ortiz (D-Texas), a member of the delegation, told Arms Control Today he is “dumbfounded” by the administration’s stance. “We were going there because we think we can be supportive of the administration,” Ortiz said. Ortiz credits the delegation’s June 2003 visit with helping to bring the North Koreans to the six-party talks. (See ACT, July/August 2003.)