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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 Transit St. Regis Hotel

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Beijing, China
August 4, 2005

(Opening statement in Japanese by Ambassador Sasae)

A/S HILL: Itís great to see you all and great to be here with my good friend Ken Sasae with whom we have spent a lot of time together in the last couple of weeks. To be sure it was another very busy day, but certainly with the expectation that we are very much getting to the end game. I think anyone whoís kept through an experience like this, with so many days, I think weíre 11 days -- something like that -- has a real desire to see if we canít reach an agreement. So, weíve been working very hard to see if we can bridge the remaining differences. But, I donít want to suggest that those differences are small or insignificant. Those differences are important and especially when one is talking about just a couple of pages of principles, itís important that those principles need to be clear. So, we need to strive for clarity so that when thereís a principle written down, everyone knows what that principle means.

So, it has not been an easy process. In fact, itís a very tough process. But, we are very dedicated to doing everything we can do to try to bridge the remaining differences and try to find a solution to this. The Chinese have obviously worked very hard. They have really made excellent technical arrangements, but more importantly than that, theyíve had a very active delegation in trying to help get the parties together and figure out ways to push the process forward. So, I donít know how much longer this is going to go on. I suspect, not much longer. I suspect we really are getting to the last couple of days of this.

There are differences. There are differences between the D.P.R.K. on the one hand and the other participants on the other. As Iíve said before and Iíll say again, itís a very tough issue, but we do need clarity on this issue. In a lot of diplomatic agreements you have something called creative ambiguity where one side can take something, believe something, the other side can believe theyíve agreed to something else. But, we are talking about nuclear weapons and we cannot have a situation where the North Koreans pretend to abandon their nuclear weapons and we pretend to believe them. So, we need clarity on this issue and thatís whatís taking so much time, achieving that clarity. So, weíre prepared to stay as long as itís useful. I would say today was a useful day and we look forward to doing it again tomorrow and really hoping that we can wrap up soon and head on home. So, thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, did the North Koreans move at all during the North Korean-South Korean-U.S. talks? Was there any shift in their position?

A/S HILL: Well, you know, I hate to talk about shift in their position because if I said to you, "Yes, the North Koreans shifted their position." They would come back and say, "No, we didnít." So, I donít know if itís really helpful for me to tell you whether they shifted their position. It was a useful meeting to be sure. It was kind of impromptu. Wasnít really planned much in advance. But itís the first time we met together with the North Koreans and the South Koreans. Immediately afterwards, of course, we briefed our Japanese friends very thoroughly on it. You know, one of the things in these talks is even though an awful lot of bilateral meetings go on, we want to make sure thereís really transparency so no one gets two different versions of the same meeting.

QUESTION: What about the head delegatesí meeting this evening?

A/S HILL: The head delegatesí meeting was fairly pro forma and basically it was the Chinese hosts asking us whether we want to continue. I must admit no one wants to continue, but I think we all felt duty bound to continue because I think there is a feeling that we have taken this further than weíve ever had in the past, than weíve gone in the past, so, weíd like to see if we can get to an agreement. Weíre not there yet, frankly speaking. Weíre definitely not there. We do have substantial differences, but I think no one is quite ready to say we cannot get there so I think thereís a desire to keep on going.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, did you find any positive sign which indicates the tide is different today?

A/S HILL: Well, maybe I should ask Ken Sasae to answer the question whether thereís any real positive sign. I have trouble talking about positive signs because you think something is positive one day, and then you come back the next day and itís not there. So, I think what you have to judge these things by is the results, and, frankly speaking, we donít have any results yet. Ken, do you want to take it?

AMBASSADOR SASAE: I think there is lots of effort (unintelligible) before, and I think there was lots of positive proposal also some positive effort. So, I think itís a mix of the thought. I would define that way. But, we do not abandon the hope. There is still time for us to get this.

QUESTION: Is it one of your options not to have a joint statement?

A/S HILL: Well, I think in the event there is not a joint statement -- in the event we fail to get the agreement in principles, which is designed to form the basis of going after an eventual full agreement, then we need to decide what type of statement there would be. Normally in these instances itís a chairmanís statement. We need to decide how the talks would end. Would the round be declared over? Would there be a recess or something? So we had some discussion of that today but I think certainly the consensus of opinion was to keep going and see if we can narrow those differences still further.

QUESTION: What is the schedule tomorrow?

A/S HILL: I donít know. I have to think about tonight and I really would like to get some sleep tonight. Weíll deal with tomorrow tomorrow, but Iím sure thereíll be a lot more meetings. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: What are the Chinese doing to try and persuade the North Koreans?

A/S HILL: Nothing special. I mean, we can talk later.

Released on August 4, 2005

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