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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 20, 2007

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I'm already late for these meetings so I really have to go, but I'll take one or two questions.

QUESTION: Is this going to be your really last day for the session?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes. I think we've done some comments for their joint statement. We'll return the comments to them, and presumably we will have a little discussion about the joint statement.

QUESTION: Do you think DPRK has been supportive? Do you have any discussion of points for the deadline or statement? And would you care to --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: There is a discussion about that, and now ultimately we decided not to put in deadlines yet. We'll put in deadlines when we have the working groups and we know precisely what we are talking about. For example, how long does it take to disable nuclear facilities. That is a technical question. If we put a deadline in now, we are not really sure. My opinion remains the same -- that all of this is quite doable by the end of the year. And I don't want to quote other people about that, because it's my opinion. But I do believe that it can be accomplished. It is the decision of the Chinese chair not to include that opinion or that guess in the statement.

QUESTION: Secretary Hill, did this session help build momentum going forward?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, absolutely. This session absolutely has built momentum. I mean, look at how far we have come in just seven days. We have got the shutdown of the entire facility, IAEA has deployed, we've got a means to deliver this heavy fuel oil. But most of all we have an incentive for everybody to continue to move forward, and that I think is very key. There's no incentive in that February agreement for anyone to say, "Oh, I'll take a break now, and I won't go forward." Everyone is incentivized to move forward. So by the standards of these things, I'm very pleased.

How are the Red Sox doing today? Did you see the scores? [Laughter]

QUESTION: The next meeting with North Korea, can you talk about what you will do?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we have a tentative date for before the end of August. So I am going to look at my calendar and see if we can fix a date, probably at the very end of August.

QUESTION: So this is doable by the end of the year. What's the incentive for North Korea to do this by the end of the year? This is going to take a long time to --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, because I think they have interest in things beside fuel oil. They have an interest in getting storage capacity, things like that. And the time to get going on that is very soon. So the point is, the fuel oil, the 950 [950,000 tons], is contingent on moving. Further fuel oil is contingent on further denuclearization. Everyone knows that. At this point, we don't need to put deadlines to it. I think everyone understands, and so we'll try to just keep going forward.

QUESTION: Increasing storage capacity for example is also going to take time, so I don't --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well then we have to work out the sequencing. Again, how you improve storage capacity is a very technical question which goes beyond my modest diplomatic background to answer for you.

AIDE: I'm sorry. We have to get going.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I've really got to go, because the Chinese foreign minister is expecting to see us all at 10:00, and I don't think it would be very polite if we walked in at ten past.

See you later. See you next time. There will be a next time. [Laughter]

QUESTION: Will you be back here today?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I doubt I'll be coming back, I have a pretty busy schedule and I have checked out and turned in my room key. Thank you, see you later.

Released on July 20, 2007

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