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Comments to the Press at the Ministry of Unification

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Seoul, Korea
July 16, 2007

QUESTION: (inaudible) economic sanctions that removes North Korea from the terrorism list?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No. What we’re doing this week is to go back to Beijing to start the Six Party process, to determine what the next steps are. Clearly the heart of the issue is that there is going to be a lot of crude oil delivered. In return DPRK is going to give us a comprehensive declaration; they will also work up the timing for the disablement of the Yongbyon facility. So we have a lot of work to do with respect to economic measures. We will. There are a couple we are prepared to discuss, and we have begun the process, for example, we began to have a discussion on this in our bilateral channel and when we met with Mr. Kim Gye-gwan in March, I believe it was. And we’ll continue to discuss it. But at this point I’m not prepared to tell you precisely what elements go into the stages as we move towards complete denuclearization. I can tell you, though, that with complete denuclearization, everything is going to be possible.

QUESTION: Did you hear anything from IAEA (inaudible) Yongbyon process?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I haven’t heard anything overnight.

QUESTION: (inaudible) HEU issue, highly enriched uranium?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We’re going to have a dialogue about that. That’s how we’re going to resolve it.

QUESTION: Would you like to see the IAEA inspectors go to the reprocessing facilities? It’s one of the (inaudible) issues the last time we’re (inaudible).

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: My understanding is that they have a pretty good mandate to visit the complete area in the Yongbyon complex. Our understanding from the IAEA just now is they will be able to have a firsthand view, be able to do their jobs. I’m confident they’ve got the mandate they need.

QUESTION: You’re having a meeting with Kim Gye-gwan soon. Can you just give us a little preview of what you would like to address with him when you’re sitting down?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think that we will discuss, it will be kind of a preview of the Six Party process. We’ll discuss things that we want to see accomplished in the Six Party process. It will also be a preview of upcoming working groups, because we’d like to get all the working groups going -- including denuclearization, including energy -- because there’s a lot of work to do on energy, but also including the bilateral working groups. There’s our working group and the Japan working group. So I think we’ll preview some of the working groups.

I think we’ll talk a little bit about timing, and we’ll try to kind of have a clearer sense of each other’s positions with respect to getting through the remaining steps. There are a number of remaining steps toward complete denuclearization. Now these are not negotiations, because the negotiations are in the Six-Party process. But we’re kind of previewing, having a look at each other’s positions -- what each might expect in terms of obligations from the other as we go forward in the Six Party process. So it’ll be that kind of discussion.

I find these bilateral contacts to be very useful, because I think they have been helpful to the Six Party process. But I think the very key bilateral meeting, for me, will be to preview the Six Party process with the Chinese, who are, who I think have played really an excellent role as chairman of the process. And I think a lot of the credit for our getting us to this first step -- that is, getting us the shutdown of this Yongbyon facility -- should go to the Chinese, who after all were the ones who drew up the February agreement, who were the ones who drew up the September agreement. So it’s very important that we all work very closely with the Chinese hosts.

QUESTION: Let me ask you (inaudible) about South Korea in the process. Why do you think they want to exclude South Korea in the process?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We’ll, I’m not sure what that was. I saw the statement that was made, I guess by KPA personnel. If the DPRK has anything to tell us on any new ideas on that, we look forward to hearing more when I get to Beijing.

QUESTION: What do you think is the biggest hurdle in completing the denuclearization process? The biggest hurdle?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The biggest hurdle. I think there are a number of them. So I think it’s -- You know, if the DPRK wants to denuclearize, if they’re really prepared, if they‘ve made that strategic decision that these nuclear weapons are not in their interest, then I don’t see any big hurdle. I think we can work through everything. On our part, we’re certainly prepared to do everything we need to do to make it happen. If they have not made that decision to go forward, if they still have their doubts, then many small bumps can become tall mountains. So we’ll have to see. I’ll certainly have to anticipate there’ll be problems in the future, because I never expected it would take until July to get this first step done. But better late than ever.

QUESTION: There’s talk of another inter-Korean summit around, in August. What’s your position on that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I – Well, first of all, I haven’t heard that. But I think the issue of the inter-Korean dialogue and the level of inter-Korean activity is something that I know is very important to the Korean people, and we respect the very strong views of the Korean people on these issues. And it’s not for us to give advice to the Korean people about how these inter-Korean summits or inter-Korean meetings take place. We do like to see these, this inter-Korean process in some ways coordinated with the Six-Party process -- in the sense that we want to know what we’re doing, and we want to make sure that we’re all reinforcing all the same things that we want. But it’s really not for me to be sort of telling Korean people what to do in that regard.

QUESTION: When do we expect the report from IAEA?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I would think that there would be something really soon on their initial, I would say, walkthrough of the Yongbyon facility. But I got in from Tokyo last night. I went into some private meetings last night. I woke up this morning. I have this meeting, and I haven’t heard yet. So I’m sure we’ll hear soon.


Released on July 16, 2007

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