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Morning Walkthrough With Reporters at Six-Party Talks

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
St. Regis Hotel
Beijing, China
July 19, 2007

QUESTION: Is today going to be your final day?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think so, yes. I think we have a meeting in about 30 minutes. We have a heads of delegation meeting, and there will be some bilateral meetings. I think we will meet some senior officials from the Foreign Ministry, and there will probably be a Chairman’s statement, and then we’ll have dinner. As I understand it, that will be it.

QUESTION: Are any of the bilats set up at this point?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, not yet. I’ll be seeking bilats from just about everybody.

QUESTION: Have you started circulating the draft of the Chairman’s statement?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I haven’t seen it yet. I think it will be this afternoon. Again, we had half of the discussion yesterday, and I think we’ll have the other half today -- so probably after lunch.

QUESTION: Any kind of preview of the Chairman’s statement that you might be able to --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, but I think they’ll try to set an overall – I think there is a feeling that there is a consensus among the six as to the target timeframe for the completing of these tasks. So I think that will be reflected in the Chinese statement.

QUESTION: What is that timeframe?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m going to wait for the Chinese statement to know what the target timeframe is.

QUESTION: The issue is an actual (inaudible) declaration on this whole thing?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, that’s what I mean by this next phase.

QUESTION: Are all six parties satisfied with phase one. Is it a done deal?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes. The one issue -- To be frank, our experience with the working groups is that we need to do more there, and I think people need to endeavor to get the right experts around the table. The idea of working groups is not just to have those of us who deal on the Six Parties to deal on working groups. We need real experts, because there are real technical issues that need to be resolved. I think there is a discussion about upgrading how we handle the working groups, and then there is also a bit of discussion about the issue of the list of nuclear facilities that would be included in a declaration. We’ve had discussions about what should be included. But I think, as a practical matter, when we get to the actual declaration, some of that first phase discussion about lists will actually be the discussion about the declaration.

By and large, I think everyone feels that we did okay in the first phase, with the understanding that we missed just about every deadline. And we don’t want to do that anymore. I guess we have to be careful about deadlines. But if you don’t have deadlines, you’ll never get stuff done. So we have to balance that.

QUESTION: Ambassador, are you willing to provide North Korea with additional economic assistance if they show firm commitment to completing denuclearization?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we will look at a lot of things there. We certainly want to look at humanitarian issues. We want to look very closely at humanitarian issues, which some people, I suppose, would argue are economic. We are very concerned about the plight of the North Korean people and would like to see what can be done. So I think we have an open mind about looking at these humanitarian issues and seeing if more can be done.

QUESTION: I have a question about the mood between the Japanese --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The what? The mood? Oh, I don’t deal with moods (laughter).

QUESTION: I just meant, sir, that do you expect the Japanese to share the cost in the next tranche, the remaining --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You’ll have to ask the Japanese about that. They have some very, very legitimate concerns that need to be rigorously addressed in the bilateral mechanism with the North Koreans. We completely support Japan in this. We try to do our part to be helpful on this matter. I think the quicker North Korea and Japan can sit together and try to work through some of these things, the better for all concerned. You know, they are going to be neighbors for a long time.

QUESTION: Is there any possibility to extend the session?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh come on, I’ve got to get home; I’ve got to get back. There are things to do, baseball games to watch. (Laughter.) I think today is going to be it.

I think what we are going to try to do is get working groups going. I think that is really very important to implementing the second tranche. So working groups, probably try to get another full Six-Party meeting, try to get a term for this ministerial. I don’t think we’ll be able to agree on a date here, because we need to work with our schedulers for our busy ministers. So we’ve got a lot of work ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, does the U.S. also intend to join the supply of heavy fuel oil?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, we’ll be part of the heavy fuel oil in the second phase. We will be part of the nine-fifty (950,000), and we will share it equally, as we agreed with the ROK, the Russians and the Chinese.

QUESTION: So, also thinking of the heavy fuel oil in steps, is it okay for your government to provide heavy fuel oil in steps?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We could do that. Or we could do heavy fuel oil equivalent. We need to work out the details of that, and the working group -- As I said earlier, we -- the four countries -- will be looking at heavy fuel oil equivalents, refurbishments, things like that. But what I think the ROK wanted to make clear is that, as the first contributor, they didn’t want to be the only contributor. So three other countries agreed to join with them on an equal basis, and so that’s what we’ll do. Whatever our contributions -- heavy fuel oil or otherwise -- will depend on technical matters, not political matters.

AIDE: I’m afraid we don’t have any more time. We’ve got to get the Assistant Secretary to Diaoyutai.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Okay, see you later.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Released on July 19, 2007

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