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Bush Sees 'Evil' N.Korea Through Bulletproof Glass
By Arshad Mohammed

Click to enlarge photo

OBSERVATION POST OUELLETTE, South Korea (Reuters) - Standing atop a sandbag bunker and protected by bulletproof glass, U.S. President George W. Bush peered through binoculars at North Korea on Wednesday and bluntly called it "evil."

Dressed in a green army jacket, Bush got his first direct look at the eerily barren North Korean landscape that lies beyond the heavily mined and fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean peninsula.

The view included a North Korean guard post, anti-U.S. billboards put up by Pyongyang, a fence tipped with razor wire and rocky hills largely denuded of trees and vegetation.

As Bush stood behind bulletproof glass installed for his visit, a military officer pointed toward a North Korean museum that displays anti-American propaganda, including the axes used to kill two U.S. servicemen in a grisly 1976 incident.

"Hear that?" Bush called out from the camouflage-draped bunker, which sits about 100 meters (yards) from the border. "The axes that were used to slaughter two U.S. soldiers are in the peace museum. No wonder I think they're evil."

Captain Arthur Bonifas and First Lieutenant Mark Barrett were in charge of protecting South Koreans seeking to cut down a tree in the DMZ on August 18, 1976. About 30 North Korea soldiers attacked, grabbed the axes and killed the two U.S. soldiers, battering them beyond recognition.

"WE'RE READY"

Bush, who last month described North Korea, Iraq and Iran as an "axis of evil" seeking weapons of mass destruction, has not backed down from his tough rhetoric on a two-day visit to South Korea. However, he stressed the United States has no intention of invading the North and repeated a call for talks.

After meeting South Korean President Kim Dae-jung in Seoul, Bush flew by helicopter to a U.S.-run base in the DMZ just 50 km (30 miles) from the South Korean capital.

Driving in an armored four-wheel-drive truck, rather than his limousine, Bush rumbled past anti-tank barriers and the vast live minefields that run the length of the 248 km (154 mile) DMZ.

The observation post -- which has North Korean territory on three sides and is in view of a chain-link, razorwire-topped fence -- sits atop a dusty hill.

Among the things Bush could see were North Korean signs written in large, white Korean characters with slogans such as: "Anti-America" and "Our General is the best" -- a reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Bush spent about 10 minutes atop the bunker and then he and Secretary of State Colin Powell sat down to a lunch of cold cuts, potato chips, fruit and cookies with about a dozen U.S. soldiers who help man the post 24 hours a day.

Asked what he thought when he looked out over the North, Bush said: "We're ready."


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