WASHINGTON – A senior House Republican proposed Tuesday that former President Bush lead a high-level U.S. delegation to North Korea's capital in hopes of touching off talks on a peace treaty with the reclusive Asian government.
This could prompt North Korea to halt a potent nuclear weapons program by "shaking up the negotiating dynamics," Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, said in offering his proposal at a session of the private Arms Control Association.
Leach, chairman of the House subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said a U.S. delegation headed by the 41st president could propose a time and place for a peace conference leading to establishing U.S. diplomatic relations with North Korea.
And peace talks, Leach said, could help eliminate Pyongyang's pretext for nuclear activities that already have produced at least a handful of weapons.
Leach's spokesman, Gregory Wierzynski, said the congressman had discussed the idea with both President Bush and his father, but would not reveal the details of their conversations.
In Houston, Jean Becker, the former president's chief of staff, declined immediate comment.
Six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear arms program have stalled since November 2005. At the sessions, the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and South Korea have tried to persuade the North to abandon its nuclear program.