Former President George W. Bush has expressed confidence that the North Korean nuclear issue can be resolved through diplomacy. But he cautions that the county's leader Kim Jong Il is likely to continue to prove a formidable negotiator.

In a speech in Seoul on Wednesday, Mr Bush said ``I believe the best way to bring peace to the Korean peninsula is through multilateral diplomacy through the six-party talks.''

Mr Bush said Mr Kim ``will no doubt test the system, no doubt try to find weaknesses.''

Mr Kim recently said his country might return to six-nation talks on its nuclear programme depending on the outcome of direct talks it seeks with the U.S.

Mr Bush criticised the North's human rights record, calling it the ``last Stalinist state.''

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