TOKYO - George Bush today warned North Korea that it had yet to fully address international concerns over its nuclear weapons programme, just over a week after the regime handed over a detailed declaration of its nuclear activities.
The US president, speaking to reporters on the eve of the G8 summit in Japan, acknowledged North Korea had met key demands over its nuclear programme that will see it taken off a US list of states that sponsor terrorism.
"North Korea did provide a declaration of its plutonium-related activities and did blow up the cooling tower of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon," he said.
"That's been verified and is a positive step, but there are more steps to be taken. I view this process as a multi-step process where there will be action for action."
Pyongyang gave the US a list of its nuclear activities late last month, but the document is not thought to have referred to uranium enrichment, which the north denies.
"We are concerned about enriched uranium and proliferation, human rights abuses and ballistic missile programmes," Bush said.
He told the Japanese prime minister, Yasuo Fukuda, that the US would continue to push for details about several Japanese citizens allegedly abducted by North Korea during the cold war.
"The United States will not abandon you on this issue," he said.
While the three-day summit, being held at a luxury hotel near Lake Toya on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido, will be dominated by climate change, rising food and oil prices and aid to Africa, the leaders are expected to condemn the discredited presidential runoff in Zimbabwe.
Bush did not comment on the situation in Zimbabwe, but the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the G8 leaders would discuss how to increase pressure on Robert Mugabe, who was re-elected amid widespread violence and intimidation.
"We will confer on how we can toughen sanctions against Zimbabwe, and I hope that we will also get support from our African colleagues here," she said in her weekly video message.
Fukuda confirmed he would be attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on August 8, while Bush said he believed boycotting the event to protest against China's crackdown in Tibet earlier this year could prove counterproductive.
"I happen to believe not going to the opening ceremonies of the games would be an affront to the Chinese people, which may make it more difficult to be able to speak frankly with the Chinese leadership," he said.
Merkel is boycotting the ceremony in protest at Beijing's Tibet crackdown. Gordon Brown will attend only the closing ceremony, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is undecided.
Hopes have been dashed that the leaders will agree on a 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, something the embattled Fukuda had hoped would improve his political standing at home.
Instead, they are expected to agree to build momentum for a deal at a UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.
Bush, who marked his 62nd birthday on Sunday, repeated his demand that any deal on climate change must include major polluters from the developing world.
"And I also am realistic enough to tell you that if China and India don't share that same aspiration, then we're not going to solve the problem," he said.
He reiterated his support for increasing aid to Africa amid criticism that the G8 leaders are failing to deliver on their promise, made in Gleneagles in 2005, to double aid to the continent by the end of the decade.
"I'm concerned about people going hungry," he said. "We'll be very constructive in the dialogue about the environment - I care about the environment - but today there's too much suffering in the continent of Africa.
"Now is the time for the comfortable nations to step up and do something about it."
© Guardian News and Media Limited 2008