WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) plans no talks with North Korean officials during an economic summit meeting in South Korea this month. "I wouldn't count it as a possibility," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday.
Rice will be in Busan, South Korea, for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum the week before Thanksgiving. She will also visit Bahrain, Israel and the West Bank and Saudi Arabia in the Mideast and China and Mongolia in Asia on the same trip, the State Department said.
In Jerusalem, Rice is expected to represent the United States at a memorial ceremony for the 10th anniversary of the assassination of peace-minded Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (search).
Her visit comes at a low point in Israel's relations with the Palestinians, despite hopes that Israel's July pullout from the Gaza Strip would promote peace.
In Busan, South Korea, Rice will lead a U.S. delegation meeting ahead of the larger summit of world leaders, including President Bush (search).
Negotiations with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program are expected to be a major topic of what is otherwise a trade and development gathering. North Korea is not a member of APEC, but all five nations negotiating with the secretive communist government are members.
North Korea agreed in September to end its declared nuclear weapons program and swear off new development. Details of the deal are still up in the air, although some may be resolved at a separate meeting of the U.S., China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and North Korea next week in Beijing.
The 21-member APEC group promotes free and open trade and investment around the Asia-Pacific region.
In Bahrain, Rice will attend a gathering of the Forum for the Future, a loosely organized initiative to promote political, economic, and social reform in the Mideast and North Africa. In Saudi Arabia, Rice and her Saudi counterpart attend sessions intended to launch a new partnership covering a variety of political, security, economic and military areas.