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Afternoon Remarks at the Beijing Airport

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Beijing Airport
Beijing, China
July 20, 2007

QUESTION: How do you see the agreement?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think we really set out to arrange a work plan for the coming weeks, and I think we very much succeeded with that. I was very pleased with the Chairman's statement. I think if you read, it you'll see the very real fact that we have a lot of work to do. We have to get all these working groups done in August. Some of them have a lot of work ahead, and then we're going to reconvene. And when we reconvene on the basis of the working groups, we hope to have a clear roadmap ahead. And then, immediately after that or as soon as possible depending on everyone's schedule, we'll try to put together this ministerial. Obviously, we're going to try to deal with tight deadlines. I'm still of the view that, with a little luck, we can wrap this all up by the end of the year, but obviously it's going to be difficult. So, we'll do our best.

QUESTION: In your opinion (inaudible) the coming weeks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Let me see what comes out of the working groups. Let me see what needs to be done in terms of the declaration. We need to look at this technically. Then let's put it up against this seat-of-the-pants judgment I have that I hope we can have this done by the end of the year and see if it makes sense. It's not so important whether it's done in November or February. What's important is that we continue to make acceptable progress toward our goal, which is complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Once we work out the actual tasks involved -- and that has to be done with the result of the working groups -- I think it's fair at that point to put some timelines. But right now I'm just guessing. I would like as a sort of target timeframe to get through the end of '07 and then get on to what I think is the end game in '08. I think it's feasible, but I will know better when I see the working groups.

QUESTION: What is the U.S. prepared to offer at normalization talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, I don't want to get into specific elements. Obviously, that's going to be the result of our discussions. But I think we are prepared to move toward normalization as they are prepared to move toward denuclearization. We have to see how quickly we end up there.

QUESTION: Are there any other things which are not written on the statement which you have agreed to with the North Koreans?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Secret agreements or something? No.

QUESTION: What did you talk about with the Foreign Minister?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: With the Chinese Foreign Minister? He gave us his thoughts on the process, and we gave him our thoughts. So the six of us spoke, and he also spoke. He indicated that China is very supportive of this process. And, indeed, China will be hosting more Six Party meetings, both at our level and then at the ministerial level.

QUESTION: Are you disappointed you came all the way to Beijing just to defer to the working groups? Could this whole thing just have been postponed?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No. I'm kind of astounded you would say that. Not at all. We came through what is arguably the most productive week in the Six Party process. We got the entire Yongbyon complex shut down. We laid out a vision for where we go from here. I'm very satisfied. I had some good bilaterals with the North Koreans. As you know, our relationship with the North Koreans is one of the key ones that we'll need to develop as denuclearization develops. Another of the key relationships is the North Korea-Japan relationship. They also had some good encounters. I am very, very satisfied. I'm very sorry if you're disappointed, but I'm very pleased.

QUESTION: How far did you get on what they are going to declare as far as their nuclear program?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We've just started that discussion, but it needs to be done by the working group. We had a very good discussion with the North Koreans to stress our point that all means all. Nothing hidden.

All right? I've got to go catch my plane.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) is the next session of the Six Party Talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The next session, full session, is -- We would have a work plan or a roadmap agreed, and then we'd start implementing this fall. Depending on what the working groups report on issues like declaration and how you disable and how you do fuel oil equivalents, I hope we can move along and maybe get something done by the end of the year.

Thank you all!

Released on July 20, 2007

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