Evening Walkthrough With Reporters at Six-Party TalksChristopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
St. Regis Hotel
August 14, 2007
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Hi.
QUESTION: Mr. Hill can you tell us what the substance was, the agenda for the non-Six Party Talks you held with the Chinese today?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We reviewed a number of bilateral issues. We discussed upcoming visits. We discussed upcoming senior level meetings. We briefly discussed international issues ,including Darfur and Iran. We discussed some outstanding bilateral issues having to do with administrative matters, including consulate openings, this sort of thing. It was the usual gamut of bilateral matters.
QUESTION: Was military transparency and reciprocity discussed during the meetings?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, we didn’t discuss that, I don’t think. We discussed the overall state of relations, the relationship with the PRC, which we announced is very satisfactory.
QUESTION: Did Taiwan come up in any form?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh yes. Of course. You can never have --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No these are diplomatic discussions. Taiwan always comes up in these issues, and today was no exception.
QUESTION: What was especially related to the Six Party Talks?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: That had to do with my meeting with Wu Dawei. He briefed me on his conversations with Kim Gye-gwan. I briefed him on my conversations with Kim Gye-gwan. We discussed the upcoming denuclearization working group Thursday and Friday. We discussed what we thought we might get out of this working group. The question of sequencing, of declaration and disablement.
In the meantime, I have spoken by telephone with Chun Young-woo and with Kenichiro Sasae, and we’re going to get together in Shenyang before the denuclearization working group.
QUESTION: What is your prediction so far? Do you think it is going to go well or --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’ll tell you after it happens how it goes. We had very businesslike discussions yesterday with the DPRK. We have every reason to believe we can achieve the objectives of it, which was to set out some of the technical tasks involved in having a good declaration and, in particular, disablement -- and the need to try and move quickly on these things because, as you recall, what we want to do after the working groups, to be honest, is to have a Six Party plenary. And it’s very important that we have the elements of this teed up so that we can make progress in the plenary.
QUESTION: Mr. Hill do you think you have a common understanding with the Chinese regarding what should be achieved in the upcoming working group?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We had very good discussion about it. I think we’re all on the same sheet of music here. As to how we’re going to do, it will be much easier for me to tell you Friday afternoon how we’ve done than to guess on Tuesday how we are going to do. From all we can tell, we will have a good businesslike discussion. We’ll get through these elements.
QUESTION: Did you have any discussions about when the next plenary will be?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we’re talking about completing all the working groups, and that involves in particular two bilateral working groups. I did some consultation with Ken Sasae on that matter, as we always do. We would like get all the working groups done by the end of August. That would put us at the beginning of September for the plenary. We’re going to have some scheduling issues, because I know I have to be down in Sydney in the middle of that week. So we’ve got to work through the scheduling. We’re not there yet in terms of scheduling the plenary.
QUESTION: Ambassador, so far are and the DPRK and the Chinese side sharing a common view against the declaration of the nuclear programs?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: A common view? We discussed what ought to be in the declaration. I wouldn’t call it a common view though. We discussed. I gave my opinion, the DPRK gave their opinion. The Chinese have their opinion. I wouldn’t call it a common view, but I think it’s certainly a basis for sitting down and having further discussions.
QUESTION: Like you said, “all is all” and “nuclear is nuclear.” Did the three parties share the same kind of –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I know what you’re looking for, and we need to continue to discuss. We’ll know better when we have the actual Six Party meeting.
QUESTION: So is there any consensus on the issue of the highly enriched uranium program?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we had some good discussions on it, but I am not prepared to say to say we have a consensus at this point.
QUESTION: Do you have any plans to assist the DPRK flood relief efforts?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We’ve just been getting the press reports today on the flood, and I asked if we could get some more information on it to see precisely what the situation is and see what the appropriateness of assistance might be. But at this point I don’t have anything to say about it. We certainly would like people in Washington to look at the extent of this. I gather there was a KCNA report on the flood damage. It appeared to be extensive. So I think we, like many other governments, will be looking into further details on it to see what can be done.
QUESTION: APTN sent a lot more photos out as well today.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I haven’t seen those, but we will certainly --
QUESTION: It highlights the depth of the problem.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We’ll certainly be looking at it very seriously.
QUESTION: Ambassador, it looks like the South Koreans are saying they might need three days for the working group.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You mean on Thursday and Friday?
QUESTION: And another day.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think I’m going on Saturday. I’m not aware that they’ve asked for three days. I talked to Chun Young-woo today, and he didn’t mention three days.
QUESTION: So you think two days is enough for the complicated technical issues?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I hope so. That’s one of the reasons we had some consultations ahead of time.
QUESTION: Mr. Hill, can you confirm a date for the normalization talks?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We can’t announce a date yet, but first of all these are bilateral working group talks. And they are talks aimed at addressing the outstanding issues in our bilateral relationship aimed at eventual normalization, which of course does not happen until there’s eventual denuclearization. I think we’re looking at the last week of August, in a place that is mutually acceptable. And we have an idea, but I need to run it by people in Washington. And a lot of people on leave right now.
QUESTION: Mr. Hill, can you give us any clearer idea of your state of agreement with Kim Gye-gwan -- other than it sounds just like an agreement to talk about talking? Can you give us any more specifics about phasing or-
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Not really at this point. I mean, we’ll go through some of this in the denuclearization working group, and then we’ll address more of that in the Six Party process. So, obviously, we’ll discuss it. But I’m really not in a position to make any announcements on it.
QUESTION: Mr. Hill, in Shenyang are you discussing the timeline? I mean the benchmark of the second phase.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Probably we will look at that. But I think one of the main issues is to look at the scope of disablement and what we mean by disabling and what are the technical possibilities for disabling, issues like that. I think they’ll be two days, and I think we’ll have time to get into some of these other matters. I think we’re going to have a serious discussion about this phase of denuclearization. As you know, I didn’t feel some of our working groups were that successful in March. But certainly, based on the energy and economic working group last week and based on some of the preliminary consultations we’ve had this week, I’m looking forward to a substantive discussion on denuclearization.
QUESTION: Can you estimate for us how many working group meetings there’re going to be?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well there are five.
QUESTION: No, I mean per working group such as the denuclearization group. Is this the first meeting, second meeting? How many meetings do you think it’ll take to hammer something out?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, if you recall we had some in March. So this will be a two-day denuclearization working group. My hope is that it will be the basis to go to the plenary and hammer out a sort of an implementation of that Roman numeral IV paragraph. So I think we just need it to have some further clarity on the technical aspects of (inaudible) “how do you disable,” and “what do you disable,” and “who disables,” and “what’s the best way to organize that administratively,” and issues like that.
QUESTION: Do each of the separate working groups, do they all have to make progress in tandem in order to get to the plenum?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think it’s always been our effort to try to leave no working group behind and to make sure that everybody is making progress. But no, we’re not looking for some exact progress in tandem.
All right. Good to see you all.
QUESTION: One last question. It’s been –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You’ve had enough questions. (Laughter)
QUESTION: One more anyways. It’s been four years this month that the talks have started. Are we at the half-way point yet?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know what’s half way, because I don’t know what’s to come. But I can tell you the substance of the discussions now is much more specific than it was just a year ago and certainly more than two years ago, when I came on. So we’re looking at real specifics. As I look back on this climb, I realize we’ve made some progress. But as I look ahead, I realize there’s a lot more that has to be done. So, I can’t really tell you how far we are.
I’m always trying to pick up the pace. Not because I’m impatient or because I’m somehow anxious to get a deal. I want a good deal, that meets the objectives. But I think we do need to try to work quickly -- because if we don’t, things just have a natural way of going very slowly. These are tough issues. I know if you look at the September ‘05 agreement, the joint statement, you should say, “Well it’s all laid out. So what’s the problem?” And I think the problem is it’s a very tough issue. The DPRK has been involved in these programs for decades now, and I’m hopeful that they’ve made the decision to give them up. But we’re going to have to slog through some tough implementation to do it.
QUESTION: Are you coming back through Beijing before leaving?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, because it’s difficult to get a Shenyang-Washington flight. I think I can do better at the Beijing Airport.
All right. I’m going to go try some Chinese dumplings, if you don’t mind. See you later.
Released on August 14, 2007