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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2005 East Asian and Pacific Affairs Remarks, Testimony, and Speeches

Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks: Evening Return to Hotel

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Beijing, China
July 29, 2005

QUESTION: How were the meetings today?

A/S HILL: Today I think we went into a new phase in the talks. We began to look at actual texts and actual words on paper. Anyone who’s done negotiations knows that’s a more difficult time. I think what was interesting was as we discussed this with the Chinese hosts, who were collecting the different ideas and are going to produce a text. We could see that there are a lot of similarities and the work we’ve done over the course of the earlier part of the week clearly showed that everyone had more or less the same concept as they went forward – a concept of several principles on which we will build the eventual agreement. We could see in looking at the principles put together by the D.P.R.K. that they too were trying to stay in the ballpark – that is, trying to stay in the same sort of concepts that the rest of us had. But still, we have a lot of differences that remain.

So, I don’t want to suggest for a minute that this is going to be easy. We’re going to have to continue to work with the various parties in the six-party process, including the D.P.R.K., and see if we can reach a consensus on the elements for the eventual negotiations – rather, the eventual agreement.

I do want to express one optimistic note that I think we all – there’s been really a lot of effort by all of the parties, especially the hosts of the process, the Chinese. We give a lot of credit to the Chinese for putting this all together. We’ll see how we go. As for how long we’re going to be here, or how long you’re going to be in this lobby, I really can’t say at this point. All I can say is we’d like to get through this is as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: What’s the main point of contention?

A/S HILL: I don’t know if there’s a main point of contention, in the sense that the main issue is pretty well agreed – that what we’re talking about is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and I think everybody agrees on that. Everyone has more or less the same definition of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But then you get into the question of how that’s going to be sequenced, with obligations from other parties, and then it gets more complicated. But, having done this sort of thing before, I’m not discouraged by the opening session of this. But clearly we have a lot of work to do and we won’t know whether it’s going to work until it works.

QUESTION: Did you have any progress today with the North Koreans?

A/S HILL: Well, North Korea had some thoughts that they also put down to paper, and there are some encouraging signs. They too understand that the issue here is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and that means the absolute dismantlement of all nuclear weapons systems and nuclear weapons programs in the Korean Peninsula. But clearly we have to continue to work. There are a lot of issues there. It’s not going to be so easy because the D.P.R.K. has ideas about how we have to normalize relations and deal with the various issues involving the U.S. relationship with D.P.R.K. and other relationships with the D.P.R.K.

Japan has some special issues that really do need to be addressed. Whether they’re addressed in the six-party process or addressed in bilateral channels, nonetheless Japan has to see some progress on these issues. So we’ve got a ways to go, and I just can’t predict to you when we’re going to be done.

QUESTION: Did the North Koreans respond on acknowledging their uranium program?

A/S HILL: Well, I don’t want to give you real-time accounts of how we’re doing on this, except to say that we have had some very open and frank discussions on some of these issues. In putting together principles – that is, a finite set of principles on which we’re going to build the eventual agreement. It doesn’t mean that we’re avoiding the tough questions. We are addressing the tough questions, and one of the tough questions is in fact the uranium enrichment program.

QUESTION: What did they say – what’s your position on the peaceful use of nuclear power?

A/S HILL: Peaceful use of nuclear power is also an important issue, an issue that needs to be addressed with some consensus. The North Koreans have an understandable view that they believe that if they are a member of the NPT in good standing – and by the way, they withdrew from the NPT – but if they are a member of the NPT in good standing, then they have a sovereign right to the development of peaceful use. But the question is, how that would work, when that would work, and frankly how that would work with the other parties. So you’ve touched on a very contentious issue that does need to be addressed among the parties.

QUESTION: What’s the U.S. position on peaceful nuclear development? Do you see, in the future, after this agreement, that North Korea should be allowed to have a civilian nuclear program?

A/S HILL: I think the U.S. position is fairly well known on this score, and the issue for us is that we don’t challenge the fact that North Korea has rights under the treaty to this. But, we would challenge whether North Korea should be exercising these rights. So this is one of the important issues we need to deal with, and I think the important thing is that all six parties have come here with the intention of reaching agreement, and so we’re going to continue to work this.

QUESTION: So sequence is one of the biggest obstacles, rather than the concept of non-nuclearization?

A/S HILL: Sequence – you mean sequence of the various obligations of the various parties? That too is an issue. But I think if everyone agrees on where we’re going – on where the last step is. We can figure out how the intermediate steps work as long as we agree on where we’re ending up. And so, I think there is a growing consensus that where we end up is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula – that is, no nuclear weapons, no nuclear weapons programs in the Korean Peninsula, no nuclear programs that could conceivably be nuclear weapons programs. So, we’ve made some progress and there’s been a lot of work in the last few days. A lot of people have spent a lot of time on this, especially – not only because I’m here in Beijing – but I think we all owe some gratitude to what the Chinese have been doing in all this.

QUESTION: Are the North Koreans continuing to insist on withdrawal of the American nuclear program in this region, the American nuclear threat?

A/S HILL: Without getting into all the specifics, yeah, we got some outstanding issues with the North Koreans and we have an alliance with the Republic of Korea and it’s an alliance that has served our country well, and has served the R.O.K. well over the last 50 years, and that alliance doesn’t depend on relations with other countries. That alliance depends on the mutual interests of the R.O.K. and the U.S. and I think we can figure out how to deal with all those problems. So thank you very much. I think you all ought to go home – it’s Friday night. You should be having a beer.

QUESTION: Do you think another round – a fifth round is necessary for a breakthrough?

A/S HILL: I don’t like to talk about breakthroughs. What I like to talk about is what we’re trying to achieve. What we’re trying to achieve is a set of principles on which we can put together an agreement. Now whether you talk about that phase as a next round or whether you talk about it as, say, a second part of this round, I’ll leave it to you and your readers to determine, but I think what we need to do is build on each meeting, on each round, and try to achieve some progress. And, what we don’t want to do is have rounds that walk away and see this rock that we’ve been pushing up this very steep hill go all the way back to the bottom of the hill such that at the next round, we have to start pushing it up to the top of the hill again. We want to make progress, use the momentum of each round in order to build on the next round. So thank you very much, and really, you guys ought to go home.

QUESTION: Is there a bilateral meeting tomorrow?

A/S HILL: I don’t know if there is a bilateral meeting scheduled. We’ve had, since early this week – I think the talks started on Tuesday – we’ve had twenty bilateral rounds. The U.S. delegation has had twenty bilateral rounds, that means full delegation rounds with our various partners. Of those twenty, we’ve had four with the D.P.R.K. In
short, we are using the model of meeting with full delegations quite frequently – so twenty bilateral rounds with full delegations. In addition, we have a lot of individual discussions. In fact, I’ve just come from a meeting with the Korean negotiator Song Min-Soon. Earlier, I had a one-on-one, in fact a walk in the park, if you will. We kind of
walked around to get out of the building, with Ken Sasae, the Japanese head of the delegation. So we have a lot of these one-on-ones. But, what I’m telling you is in addition to the one-on-ones, in addition to the group meetings – and in fact we have a meeting of all the delegations together. Today it was all the delegations represented by
the heads of delegations plus two others. We do that every day. So, in addition to that, we also have bilateral meetings with all the delegations. Now today, we had a bilateral meeting – full delegation – with the D.P.R.K. We also had a full delegation meeting with the People’s Republic of China, and then a full delegation meeting with Russia. In addition, during lunch we had meetings with a number of the members of the Japanese delegation. I had a one-on-one with Ambassador Ken Sasae. We also did the same with the R.O.K. delegation. There’s a lot of talking going on, and sometimes it’s hard to recall how many meetings we’ve actually had but it’s a lot of stuff because we really, really want to see if we can solve this problem. So thank you very much.

QUESTION: Do you believe you can get some substantial result before this round of talk finishes?

A/S HILL: Hey, I’m trying the best I can. See you all later. Take the rest of the night off.

QUESTION: Will you work on Sunday?

A/S HILL: Yeah, we’re gonna work on Sunday. Aren’t you? All right, see you later.

Released on August 3, 2005

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