Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks: Evening Return to HotelChristopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
July 28, 2005
QUESTION: Did the U.S. propose today to do inspections of the North Koreans’ nuclear facilities?
A/S HILL: No, we had a discussion with the North Koreans about the whole issue of moving forward. We compared the elements that we have for an agreement and then we looked at the elements that they have for an agreement and tried to compare the two and see where we could agree with them. So, it was a very lengthy discussion. We agree with them on a number of things, and then there are a lot of things that we don’t agree with. I think we’re maybe at the position now where we can talk to the Chinese hosts about beginning a process of circulating the elements of what the eventual agreement should be. I want to emphasize that in this round of the Six-Party Talks we are not expecting a final agreement. What we’re expecting to do is put together the elements that will be the basis of a final agreement, and that final agreement we might get first of all through a working group session, where people begin to take these elements and put them together in a draft, and then an eventual additional round. So, we’re not there yet – it’s a very, very complex negotiation. There are a lot of issues here – a lot of different countries with a lot of interests here. It’s very much of a multilateral process, but I’m pleased to say that we’re working well with all the parties. We’re working very well with the Chinese, who are hosting this; we’re working very well with the South Korean delegation; and we’re working well with the North Korean delegation. But, you have to remember these talks have been out of session for over a year, so we’ve had a lot of catching up to do.
QUESTION: In September, will there be any inspections or talks?
A/S HILL: I think in September – I don’t want to predict precisely the negotiating sessions, but I hope we can push this thing ahead. We are not interested in another 13-month gap. We are interested in using the momentum of this session to go perhaps to a working group, to immediately go to a next session, and try and get this over and then get you out of this hotel lobby because this is a terrible life for you and I realize that.
QUESTION: Mr. Hill, which day is the last day of your meeting?
A/S HILL: Are you running out of shirts? I don’t know. We didn’t want a situation where we had to have a deadline based on some artificial conditions. In fact, in the past, I think we’ve had these sessions last maybe two or three days. Clearly, after a 13-month gap, we needed more time. Today was a very busy day; I suspect tomorrow will be a very busy day, and we have to see how we do over the weekend. But I, like you, I don’t want to stay here for the rest of my life, I’d like to get back home, so we’ll see how quickly we can get moving.
QUESTION: What is the most conflict between you and North Korea?
A/S HILL: I think we need to – with North Korea, they have – this is a big decision for them, they have engaged in these nuclear weapons programs now for some two decades, maybe even three decades. It’s a big decision because what we’re asking them to do is not just freeze. We’re looking at a real dismantlement of what could be a three-decade program that they have. Big decision. The right decision, no question. Absolutely no question North Korea will be far better off without these weapons, and frankly speaking, I think when the history books are written, the history books will be very clear that the time that North Korea had these weapons was not a good time in North Korean history. So I think we have to be respectful of the importance of the decision. They obviously would like to make sure they get everything they can from the dismantlement of these weapons. We see the dismantlement of these weapons leading to other things. They would like to see those other things leading to the dismantlement of the weapons. So we have sequence issues, as I’ve mentioned before. But we have a good process. We’re working well with them. We’re working well with the Chinese. So, let’s see how we do.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, have you found any indication that they want to make a strategic decision, a big decision?
A/S HILL: We’ll see. I think I’ll measure that by results. As my South Korean friends like to talk about, results oriented negotiations. When we see the results, then we can look back and say, "When was there a strategic decision, and what was the key moment?" We’ll meet again in the lobby and talk about that. But I’ve really got to go up to my room. I’ve got a bunch of phone calls to make and I’ll see you all tomorrow.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, will the next round be in September and the talks wrapping up –
A/S HILL: Don’t know. I don’t want to make a prediction about precisely when it will be. I just want to assure you we want to move ahead, we want to use the momentum from this round to have good momentum in the next round and move very quickly.
QUESTION: So as soon as possible.
A/S HILL: As soon as possible. We are not interested in some long-term process. There are a lot of very exciting things in Asia to move on to, and I for one as Assistant Secretary for Asia don’t want to spend my entire tenure just working on North Korea. So, thank you very much. I’ve really got to go. See you later.
Released on August 3, 2005