No direct talks with North Korea: US
The United States on Wednesday ruled out direct talks with North Korea in response to its missile launches but pressured Pyongyang to "step back" and rejoin six-country nuclear negotiations.
"This is not a US-North Korea issue, and we are not going to permit the leader of North Korea to transform it into that," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters as the Stalinist regime fired a seventh missile.
In an apparent effort to downplay the crisis, Snow volunteered that US President George W. Bush had not reached out to any world leaders and that Cuba, not North Korea, dominated an early US National Security Council meeting.
But Washington pursued an aggressive diplomatic counter-offensive to the launches, reaching out to China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, France, Britain and other partners to shape a unified response to the situation.
Snow said that the top US negotiator in the nuclear talks with North Korea -- Assistant US Secretary of State for Asia Christopher Hill -- was consulting US partners and had put off until Thursday his departure for the region.
"What we are doing is trying to figure out the proper way to move forward in dealing with North Korea," said Snow, who deflected all questions about whether Washington hoped to criticize or punish North Korea.
"There is no set agenda, there is no agenda to say 'ladies and gentlemen we want to do x, y, and z,'" he said as the UN Security Council opened a private meeting on the situation.
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