EVIAN, France – President Bush (search) on Sunday dismissed a tentative proposal by North Korea that it might agree to discuss its nuclear weapons program with a group of nations, if it could also hold direct talks on the side with just the United States.
The idea was conveyed to Bush by Chinese President Hu Jintao (search), a senior Bush administration official said. Bush suggested he wasn't interested in such a format, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The president has said that any new talks with North Korea (search) about its nuclear weapons program must also include its major neighbors -- China, Japan and South Korea.
"The policy hasn't changed," Bush told reporters as he and Hu posed for pictures on a grassy bluff overlooking Lake Geneva.
The administration is not interested in a one-on-one meeting with Pyongyang, even as part of a larger format, said the administration official.
Bush said the United States would be willing to listen to North Korean concerns only if they were raised at a larger meeting.
The official said Bush told the Chinese leader that he didn't believe the United States by itself had enough influence to change North Korea's behavior without help from other countries.
The official said the Chinese leader had conveyed North Korea's suggestion, but did not push for such a format himself.
Bush and Hu met on the sidelines of a Group of Eight summit of the world's major industrial powers.
The official said that both leaders agreed the issue needed to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
Hu, like Bush, has called for North Korea to relinquish its nuclear weapons program.
The two also talked about Taiwan during their 40-minute meeting, with Bush reiterating that the United States continues to support a "one China" policy and that the United States would help Taiwan defend itself to the extent possible.
Hu expressed concerns to Bush about a movement in Taiwan toward independence.
Although the two had met twice before, this was the first time they had met since Hu took office in March. They also talked recently by phone.