SINGAPORE: President George W. Bush warned Thursday that North Korea may try to sell nuclear technology and materials to other nations and terror groups, and he urged Asian nations to enforce United Nations sanctions against the country.

Speaking at the National University of Singapore at the start of a five-day tour of Asia, Bush cautioned Pyongyang against aiding other nations, particularly in the Middle East, in their pursuit of nuclear weapons. He promised unspecified "grave consequences" if North Korea were ever caught shipping nuclear technology or weaponry abroad.

"The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or nonstate entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action," Bush said.

"For the sake of peace," he added, "it is vital that the nations of this region send a message to North Korea that the proliferation of nuclear technology to hostile regimes or terrorist networks will not be tolerated."

Stopping Wednesday in Moscow for refueling, Bush and his wife, Laura, visited for 90 minutes with President Vladimir Putin.

The White House described the visit as largely social. But it included some exchanges on efforts to get Russia to join a resolution imposing UN sanctions on Iran for its continued defiance over its nuclear program.

On the way from Moscow, Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, acknowledged that the two countries were still well apart on sanctions.

"The issue is just what should be in the resolution," Hadley said after talking to his counterpart, Igor Ivanov, in Moscow. "It's a little bit like sausage making - it's not pretty, and a lot of it spills out into the public. But I think the international community has held together on this issue, and I think we will again."

Russia, which is the supplier of nuclear reactors under construction in Iran, has deep economic ties to Iran's nuclear power program. It has been reluctant to impose sanctions, saying they would undercut efforts to reach a negotiated settlement. Bush administration officials make little secret of their frustration that the year is coming to a close and Iran is continuing to enrich uranium.

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