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Six days, three countries, one mission

President Bush heads to the East to share U.S. concerns, goals

From John King
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will be heading to the East February 16-22 for talks with the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea.

The president originally planned to make the trip to Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul in October, but the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States altered his schedule. They also have influenced what officials anticipate the chief executive will discuss when he sits down with the Asian nations' leaders.

According to various senior U.S. officials, Bush, in his visit to South Korea, is expected to talk tough about North Korea's missile proliferation and other weapons programs.

Bush's itinerary 

Indeed, in a briefing ahead of the trip, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice Thursday called North Korea a "merchant for ballistic missile technology." The nation, she said, is willing to sell weapons "to just about anybody who will buy."

Talks in Japan, suffering from record unemployment, likely will center on economic issues.

In China, Bush hopes to hold discussions with that nation's heir-apparent, a leader about which little apparently is known in the West. The U.S.-China meeting has a historical flavor, too; it comes 30 years after President Nixon's ground-breaking visit to China.




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