The White House belittled former President Bill Clinton's policy of direct engagement with North Korea on Monday, saying efforts to shower North Korean leader Kim Jong Il "with flowers and chocolates" had failed.
White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters that officials in Clinton's Democratic administration went to Pyongyang with offers of light-water nuclear reactors, "a basketball signed by Michael Jordan and many other inducements for the dear leader to try to agree not to develop nuclear weapons _ and it failed."
"We've learned from that mistake."
Officials in President George W. Bush's administration have repeatedly rejected the suggestion that formal discussions might be undertaken with Pyongyang outside of six-nation talks meant to rid the North of its nuclear weapons program. Bush officials insist on speaking with the North at a negotiating forum that includes the Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia. Those talks have been stalled since November.