Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks: Morning Transit St. Regis HotelChristopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
August 5, 2005
A/S HILL: Good morning. How are you this morning? Well, I would say this game has really kind of gone into extra innings now. Clearly, weíre getting very much to the end of this process. Weíre going to get out there and take another run at trying to resolve the last issues that are out there. Frankly, there are not that many issues, but I donít want to minimize the importance of the issues. There are some real differences and, as I said a couple of days ago, we canít just bridge them by ambiguity. We need to have clarity on what they are and what the resolution is because if we donít have clarity then all these principles are not much use because the idea is to go from principles to writing an actual agreement. And, if you canít agree on what the principles are, itís impossible to write the agreement. So, we really, really need clarity on these matters so we know exactly what we have in mind.
I would say the good news is we know what the substantive differences are -- you donít know, at least I hope you donít know, but I know what the substantive differences are and so weíll really try to see what we can do. All I can say is that we would really like to see if we can reach an agreement on these principles. Iíve got to tell you, Iíd be disappointed if we donít get there. But, on the other hand, I know what needs to be done. I know what we have to do to protect our interests in this matter. I also feel pretty good that the six-party process, in addition to being so well organized by the Chinese side, has also I think been pretty successful in brining a lot of countries together. I feel closer to my Chinese colleagues as a result -- closer to my Japanese, South Korean, Russian -- and, letís see if we can feel closer to the D.P.R.K. But, weíre clearly not there quite yet.
QUESTION: What are the last issues?
A/S Hill: Well, I knew you were going to ask me, and you should also know that Iím not going to tell you. There are some important issues there. There are some issues that I know the press has circulated. There actually have been some accurate press stories on the matter, but I really donít want to get into the substance of it because then Iíll have to give my position; and then the other guys will give their position; and then it will just be more difficult to solve. So, if youíre interested in going home, donít ask.
QUESTION: Will today be the last day?
A/S HILL: Will today be the last day? I donít know. I hope so. Iíve been hoping that for the last several days. I can just assure you Iím working as hard and fast as I can. The good news is, we have a lot of countries who agree on what needs to be done. The Chinese circulated a pretty good text. We had five countries signed on. The bad news is, we donít have six countries signed on. Weíll see what we can do to work on those remaining issues.
QUESTION: Last night, Qin Gang, the Chinese spokesman, said the measure of a successful six-party talks was not a joint statement or document. Do you agree with that? He also said that each side needs to demonstrate more flexibility.
A/S HILL: Well, I mean if I were the host of a process I would say everyone needs to be flexible. Thatís a pretty standard thing. If you look at the history of hosts of processes youíll hear that an awful lot. So, I wouldnít be too concerned with calls for flexibility, and I think I feel pretty comfortable about how flexible Iíve been here. So, Iím not too concerned about that. Your second point?
QUESTION: The measure of success is not a joint statement.
A/S HILL: Well, you know success in these international issues is to maintain your interests, and itís not a success if you reach an agreement at the expense of your interests and our interests here are a nuclear free Korean Peninsula. So, if thereís an agreement where that interest is not achieved, that can hardly be described as a success, so thereís that point. But, we would all like to see if we can get all six countries to sign on to the same concept of what it means to have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. So, if you can get all six signed on to that, you know Iíd call that a success.
QUESTION: Did you have any progress last night?
A/S HILL: What time last night?
QUESTION: After 9:00.
A/S HILL: After 9:00Öno, not after 9:00, no, but, maybe earlier in the day. Thereís some sense that we had a little more mutual understanding on what our differences are and some ideas of how to proceed. But, you know, these things -- not only does it go up one day and down the next, it can go up one hour and down the next. So, I know you may think youíve got a tough job there. Believe me, Iíd trade jobs with you anytime right now.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could you respond to what Mr. Kim Kye-Gwan said last night about peaceful use?
A/S HILL: Well, you know, I think heís expressing his governmentís position that the D.P.R.K. should have peaceful use of nuclear energy. We have a concern with how - looking back to the recent past -- at how a research reactor, a reactor that had been publicly described as research, over a course of several weeks really -- 2 months -- was turned into a weapons producing facility. So clearly, that has to be a concern to anyone looking at the issue of nuclear energy in the D.P.R.K. So, a peaceful facility, a research facility was turned into a weapons producing facility and, by the way, without any secrecy about it. There were public announcements to that effect. So, I have to be very concerned with how thatís done.
QUESTION: How do you think of compromise proposal? Logistics, I mean.
A/S HILL: Oh, you want me to tell you what my fall back positions are? Weíre going to see what we can achieve here. I donít want to get into what could be a compromise or not a compromise. Weíve got to have an agreement that protects our interest.
QUESTION: Whatís your plan today?
A/S HILL: Whatís my plan today? Well, Iím going to go out to the site. Have my 10th cup of coffee and probably meet with the Chinese hosts. Thatís probably the key meeting that Iíll have today. I expect to have a lot of other bilaterals. Of course, weíre in constant contact with Ken Sasae and Song Min Soon -- probably talk to them. I know I have a plan to see the Russians, and yes, I may also see the D.P.R.K. So, it looks like a very busy day. And I hope -- in terms of -- you know Iíd hate for you all to wait out here all the time so I hope we can work a better arrangement where you know Iím coming and you can go have coffee, or do whatever you do.
QUESTION: What is your understanding of what China is doing to persuade North Korea or clarify their position, or to bring them around to signing some sort of agreement?
A/S HILL: Well, I think China has a great interest in making sure we have a successful six-party process. You know when youíre a host, itís good to be a host, you have a lot of influence, but you have a lot of responsibility to try to make sure things work. And youíve got responsibility to get everyone signed on to documents, especially when, you as the host, have put out the drafts yourself. So, the Chinese put out a fourth draft to be sure various participants, including my own government, had comments to it, but, then one country had a rather major issue with it and that was the D.P.R.K. So, we had to see what could be done to bring them on board. We would like for there to be an agreement. I mean I didnít come here for twelve days to walk away from this thing lightly. We would really like to see if we could have an agreement. But, itís got to be an agreement thatís consistent with our interests and nuclear weapons are a very, very serious matter and itís not something you can kid around with or pretend you have an agreement when you donít have an agreement.
QUESTION: Has any of the discussion in the past few days involved verification issues?
A/S HILL: Well, you know, verification issues will be taken up in the drafting of the actual agreement. That is, at this point one of the principles is that everything needs to be verified. But, how itís verified -- precisely how it will be verified will be determined in the next stage. Clearly, there are international methods of verifying issues like nuclear weapons destruction. So, presumably, those negotiations will focus on these well known international approaches to that. But, my concern right now has not so much been verifying as to determine what precisely we will be verifying. So, verification will absolutely be a key factor, but probably not for this stage.
QUESTION: Access issues have been discussed at this stage?
A/S HILL: Well, weíve gotten to the principle where everything thatís agreed has to be verified. That is, weíre not going to just agree to things and assume that somehow goodwill of the parties will make sure there done. There has to be a verification regime and I think people are pretty clear about that. But, as I said, these verification regimes involve some very specific international standards of how itís done. And, of course, they will have to involve access. At this point what weíre concerned about is to remove any possibility that there could be disagreements on what is to be verified. So, now we look at whatís to be verified, later weíll look at how to verify it. Well, thank you very much. I really ought to get to work. Believe me this is more fun than where Iím going. Iíll see you all later.
QUESTION: How many shirts do you have left?
A/S HILL: Two. Down to two. So, book your flight.
Released on August 5, 2005