President Bush, pursuing a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis, spoke with Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Thursday and they agreed on the need for a strong U.N. Security Council resolution to punish Pyongyang, a spokesman said.

Separately, Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan had a meeting in the Oval Office and also conferred with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser Stephen Hadley and Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, deputy national security adviser J.D. Crouch told reporters.

Bush and Howard said that any resolution should be adopted under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which means it could be enforced militarily, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said.

Bush thanked Howard for Australia's response to both North Korea's missile test in July and its announced nuclear test on Monday. The president noted the leading position that both Australia and Japan are taking in implementing sanctions against North Korea, Jones said.

The president also thanked Howard for "the resolute commitment that the Australian people have made to the cause of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan," the spokesman said.

Crouch, talking to reporters who accompanied Bush on a trip to St. Louis, said that meeting with the Chinese official went well.

"I think it's a positive sign that we all agree that we need a resolution and that we need to go forward with strong measures," he said.

There was not a detailed discussion on specific elements of the resolution, Crouch said, but he added that there was a "broad understanding what there needed to be was a strong response and I think that the details of those are going to have to be negotiated."