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Comments to Reporters Upon Arrival in South Korea

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Gimpo International Airport
Seoul, Korea
July 15, 2007

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Okay. (laughter) Anybody?

QUESTION: Do you expect the (inaudible) issue to be a common obstacle in future talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, I don’t know. We have a lot of work to do, and obviously we’re all very pleased by this first step. But we all know it’s just a first step. And what we’re looking for, of course, is to do all the steps so (inaudible) to complete fulfillment of the September agreement. And so all nuclear programs means all nuclear programs. So we’re very aware of the difficult road ahead. But when you take a long trip, it is good to take a good first step, and that was a good first step.

QUESTION: Did you have input from the IAEA about the –

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I haven’t heard anything. I mean, I know that they arrived yesterday, and they were supposed to visit the five sites today, the five sites that are on the Yongbyon complex. So I am sure we’ll hear from them soon.

QUESTION: What are the first things that that you need to or you plan to talk about with North Korea when the Six-Party Talks resume this week?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think we’re going to meet with the Chinese as the chair of the Six Party process. I’ve had some bilateral talks, some consultations with my colleague, Kenichiro Sasae, in Tokyo, and I’ll be doing the same here in Seoul with Chun Young-woo. And then I will go and do that, have bilateral consultations with the other parties, I think, on Tuesday in Beijing -- that is, with Russia, China and the DPRK. Then on Wednesday we have to kind of chart out how we’re going to move forward here.

We want to talk about what is the possible schedule for achieving our goals this year. As I said many times, I think we lost a lot of time in the spring, and now we have to catch up in the fall. So that means seeing how quickly we can move through the second tranche of actions. So we will talk to all the participants bilaterally about that -- but with the understanding that on Wednesday we’ll try to agree on something with the Chinese as the host. I think that it’s very important that the Six Party process work closely together and quickly together, so that by the end of the year we can see some real progress and get on to what I’d like to call the end game in 2008.

QUESTION: Are you going to come up with a deadline on how soon North Korea should declare all of its nuclear programs, or are you going to have a bilateral on Monday or Tuesday?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think we will have a schedule for how we see the remaining agreed actions to take place. So we will have -- I don’t like to say deadlines. I just like to say a work plan and a time frame for when all these should happen. We’ll discuss these in our consultations. But we’ll have a more in-depth discussion and presumably some decisions when we actually meet in Six Parties. We think it’s very important to keep the Six Party process working closer together now.

QUESTION: Are you going to have a bilateral with Kim Gye-gwan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I anticipate having a bilateral with him on, I believe it’s Tuesday at some point. But I’m not sure of the time.

QUESTION: The North says that it wants (inaudible) of progress on state sponsor of terrorism, and now the sanctions are (inaudible) on that,. Are you going to address that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, Kurt, you know, they want progress, I want progress, everyone wants progress. Let’s see if we can come up with something that makes sense to everybody and see how much progress we can all make by the end of the year.

QUESTION: Do you think there will progress on those things on the U.S. (inaudible) side of things?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, I don’t know. We will try to see if we make progress on every element. I think we all, if you look carefully in February, we agreed to get under way with some things, and we will see what we can do to come up with schedules on everything. But I think people need to understand we have a lot of work to do, that a very important first step was taken, but we have many more steps to go. And I must say, if we don’t take these steps a little more quickly than we’ve taken that first step, then we are going to fall way behind again.

QUESTION: North Korea has mentioned about having direct military talks with the U.S. Will there be any talks regarding that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, the militaries have been talking in the armistice process. I think what the militaries have been doing is policing the armistice over the years. What we’ve been talking about is having some kind of peace regime discussion. And peace regimes don’t involve militaries as the primary focus, they involve governments. So if they have some new ideas, we’ll look forward to hearing what those new ideas are.

QUESTION: Kim Myong-gil in New York said that the U.S. needs to remove North Korea from the list of terror sponsoring states and the application of that trade law against North Korea has now --


QUESTION: -- the Trading with the Enemy Act.


QUESTION: Now has there been an –

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Making sure you’ve done your homework.

QUESTION: -- understanding between North Korea and the United States before?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No. We have to-- They want some things; we want some things. And then we have sit down and figure out how everything is going to be sequenced, and we’ll do that in the Six Party process. Agreements are reached in the Six Party process, and agreements -- You know, they are important bilateral issues. Japan and DPRK, for example, need to get their bilateral process moving more quickly than it went. I thought we made some progress in mutual understandings in New York but we’ll have to do some things as well. In fact, all of the working groups, that is, need to get going. And I would hope we can do that at some point in August, perhaps the end of August. But, again, we have to defer to our Chinese hosts, who have worked very hard, very diligently, and deserve so much of the credit for the success for the start of this -- that is, this first step. We’ll look to have the Chinese continue, I think, their very important leadership on this.

QUESTION: DPRK said today that the attitude of Japan is also very important. How do you think about that comment?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I am sorry, I didn’t see this statement. But I think everybody, all six parties need to come with an attitude of trying to make up for some lost time. We all have to come with an attitude of trying to resolve all these problems. So I don’t have any comment on their comment.

QUESTION: After the (inaudible) stage, is it true that the IAEA inspectors will remain, will be left behind?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You’ll have to check with the IAEA inspectors. I mean, they have a pretty complete understanding of how they’re going to monitor this shutdown, and I think they had a good set of meetings a few weeks ago when they were able to reach these agreements. I know they briefed all the members there. So I’m sure whatever they’ve done, it will work. They have to put up cameras and seals and things like that.

All right. Great to be back in Seoul. Now if you’ll excuse me, time to go and see how Seoul’s doing. Okay? Thank you.

Released on July 16, 2007

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