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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2003 East Asian and Pacific Affairs Remarks, Testimony, and Speeches

Press Availability on North Korea

James A. Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Seoul, Korea
January 13, 2003

ASSISTANT SECRETARY KELLY: Thanks very much. It was a special honor and pleasure to meet with the President-elect, His Excellency President-elect Roh, today, for the last hour. I was accompanied by the Ambassador, by Mr. Moriarty of the White House, Senior Director for Asian Affairs, and by Deputy Assistant Secretary Lawless from the Pentagon.

We were primarily coming here to hear the President-elect's views. We met his envoy, Mr. Chyung, a Representative in the National Assembly, who will be coming to Washington before long. I wanted to hear directly from the President-elect some of his views and how he sees Korea developing under his Presidency, and he was very generous in explaining his views. We see this as a great opportunity to improve, to build our relationship and our alliance for the next 50 years, and Mr. Roh commented on that.

I noted that this is January 13, a significant day. It was a hundred years ago that a couple thousand Koreans arrived for the first time in Hawaii, in the United States to take up residence. Now, we're talking about way over 2,000,000 Korean-Americans. This began exactly 100 years ago, and it was a very auspicious day to meet with the President-elect.

Why don't we take a couple of questions now -- maybe one from an English speaker and one from a Korean speaker.

QUESTION: (Barry Peterson of CBS) -- As you know, there were meetings over the weekend in Santa Fe with the former U.N. Ambassador, Bill Richardson, who after the meetings, expressed optimism that talks would begin soon. And then he said on one of the talk shows about the North Koreans "They believe, in order to get something, they have to lay out additional cards, step up the rhetoric and be more belligerent." And we have certainly had a dose of that this weekend, as I'm certain you've been aware -- all the things coming from the North. Do you see this belligerence as perhaps a prelude to them getting serious about talking, and if so, when or if might those talks begin?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY KELLY: I didn't hear Governor Richardson's views, but when I left it was a little disappointing, because we really hadn't heard anything from the North Koreans speaking to him that we hadn't heard in their public pronouncements before that. So, it is as you say a little mystifying, and I think we're just going to wait to see. We are, of course, willing to talk to North Korea about their response to the international community, particularly with respect to elimination of nuclear weapons, and we're going to be talking here with government people over how are some of the best ways to do that.

QUESTION: (Kim Sang Hyup, Maeil Kyungje Shinmun (Daily Business News)) -- Do you feel any need to revise or discard the so-called Agreed Framework? Related to this question, there is a proposal, this is not official yet, but using the pipeline gas projects of Exxon Mobil in Sakhalin, might be useful too in solving the energy problems of North Korea, as well as solving its (inaudible). Have you thought about this?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY KELLY: With respect to the Agreed Framework, when I was in North Korea in October, I was told that it was considered nullified. They said it was because of certain U.S. actions. This is a position with which I don't agree. I believe we had been very careful to observe the provisions of it over time. But as a result, the KEDO board did stop the heavy fuel shipments, and we've had various other breakdowns, and the expulsion of the IAEA inspectors since then. So, where the Agreed Framework is going, I don't know. It's not in very good health. However, we do know there are energy problems in North Korea and it may well be that -- once we can get beyond nuclear weapons -- there may be opportunities with the U.S., with private investors, with other countries, to help North Korea in the energy area.

I have a meeting now with some Transition Officers, then later on I'll meet with members of the government. An excellent schedule has been set up here. This is about talking to each other and exchanging views and improving our understanding. Thank you very much.

Released on January 14, 2003

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