Bush's Secret Letter to Kim

Friday, December 7, 2007

President Bush wrote a secret letter this week to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the first time he has communicated directly with the leader of the Stalinist nation. The letter, addressed "Dear Mr. Chairman" and signed "Sincerely, George Bush," urged Kim to provide a "complete and accurate" disclosure of all his nuclear programs by the end of this month. It called this a "critical juncture" that could lead to normalized relations.

Other U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said the Dec. 31 deadline could slip and indicated they would not be troubled as long as the declaration is comprehensive.

While White House officials declined to release the Bush letter, hand-delivered to North Korean officials in Pyongyang by U.S. envoy Christopher Hill on Wednesday, their description of its tone sounded much more collegial than the president's usual language regarding Kim.

Here are some highlights:

¿ "I loathe Kim Jong Il," Bush told The Washington Post's Bob Woodward in an August 2002 interview. "I've got a visceral reaction to this guy because he is starving his people."

¿ Bush called Kim a "pygmy" at a closed-door meeting with Republican senators in May 2002, comparing him to a "spoiled child at a dinner table," according to Newsweek.

¿ Bush referred to "a tyrant in North Korea" at a meeting in Brazil in November 2005.

¿ In his 2002 State of the Union speech, Bush said North Korea, along with Iran and Iraq, is part of an "axis of evil."

¿ Bush called North Korea a "heartless country" after meeting with dissidents in April 2006. He said they left because "they did not want to have their child grow up in a society that was brutal, a society that did not respect the human condition."

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