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Evening Walkthrough With Reporters at Six-Party Talks

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Intercontinental Hotel
Shenyang, China
August 16, 2007


QUESTION: (Inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think the plenary meeting went pretty well. We had a good tour de table on the issues we have to address in the next couple of days. Without getting into too many specifics, I’ll just say when it came to the turn of the North Koreans they had their experts actually speak, and they addressed the scope of disablement, what they see as the tasks in disablement. They also spoke about the declaration and how they see that. So we followed up. U.S. experts had an opportunity to speak directly with the DPRK experts, and I think there will be a lot of that kind of expert-level discussions in the next twenty-four hours. Certainly, I think all the experts from the six sides were able to meet later on and (inaudible). I’m looking forward to getting a report on how that went.

I think it was very businesslike, and we’re hopeful this can get us to an agreement when the Six Party plenary meets at the end of August, the beginning of September.

QUESTION: The (inaudible) said there were some unclear points in need of explanation?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We have to discuss some of the points with them about disablement and issues like that. (Inaudible) an increase in patience. So, again, they were speaking to the issues we are concerned about -- which are disablement and declaration. But, obviously, there are some issues that need to be further explored with them.

QUESTION: Were those unclear points HEU [highly enriched uranium] or nuclear weapons?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, it had do with the issue of disablement. But, again, I don’t want to go into too many specifics. There will be a real opportunity for all the experts to get together. I think they’ve been doing that this evening. They’ll continue to do that tomorrow.

QUESTION: Did this meeting between the U.S. and DPRK focus on what are the (inaudible) issues or (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: First of all, everybody was having these expert meetings. I think everyone is having them on a bilateral basis as well. In our case, most of our meeting had to do with disablement and to try to see if we can come up with some common definitions of disablement. As you can imagine, there are many ways to disable a nuclear program.

QUESTION: When will the meeting end tomorrow?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: When will it end? I think in the afternoon. I think it will go through the afternoon. I think it will end before dinner. But you should check with the Chinese hosts on that.

QUESTION: Do you think is there still a lot of work to be done in the next day?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes. There will be a lot of work to be done. We have to come up with some common definitions of these issues. This is just an opening day. Let’s see what we can get done tomorrow.

QUESTION: Ambassador, have the North Koreans addressed their willingness to resolve the highly enriched uranium program?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes they did, but we haven’t dealt with any specifics.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, but resolve, how you define resolve, it takes some time. They made a positive statement to this effect, but of course there are no specifics at this time.

QUESTION: Was there any difference from their past statements?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I would not say there is any real difference.

QUESTION: The differences you have at this point, do you think you can find some common ground by tomorrow?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, I think so. I think we can at least know what the differences are. Again, there are many ways to disable a nuclear program. So we have to go through that and come up with different gradations -- what is a permanent disablement, what is a temporary disablement? Issues like that. If you do X to the reactor, and it is not permanent, then how long is it? Is it three months? Is it one year? Questions like that.

QUESTION: Have they mentioned any timetable for the disablement?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No. We did not get into that. I certainly got into that, and I suggested that I think we ought to get this done by the end of the year.

QUESTION: How was the response to that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I spoke after they did. Nobody was opposed to that proposition. But I do not want to suggest that that means that everyone accepted it either. It will be a little easier to know where we are after tomorrow. Today was just an opening session.

QUESTION: Is there any commitment to the (inaudible) nuclear weapons declaration?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I don’t want to get into the specifics of what they did. But, clearly, the declaration needs to involve all nuclear programs, all nuclear materials especially. Obviously, we need to make sure we have some clarity on that.

QUESTION: Did the North Koreans have any new demand in turn for the declaration.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, there was no new demand. You know this is a tough phase, because this is the phase that takes us beyond where we have been before, beyond the shutting down of the facilities. I think it is going to be a tough phase of the process. I think what is important is that the DPRK is committed to this phase. They committed themselves to it in February. That was certainly reaffirmed today. We have to come up with common definitions so that we are satisfied that when they say they are disabling we know what they are doing and we agree that it is disabling.

QUESTION: What are you doing tomorrow?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think it is going to be a lot of meeting between experts. I think there will be multilateral meetings of experts. But I think there will be a lot of bilateral meetings. It is going to be a very busy day tomorrow.

QUESTION: What time are you meeting?


QUESTION: Would you say you are satisfied with how the first day went?


QUESTION: Were you encouraged by North Korea’s position?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, I don’t like to write headlines for people. I don’t want to say I am encouraged or not encouraged. Let me just say that it was a good first day. We had a plenary session. We discussed the issues before us. I think there is a basis for making progress in the next day, with the understanding that we are not trying to reach an agreement here. The agreement would come when the Six-Party plenary meets.

QUESTION: Looking back at what you have done today, are you confident that you can (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: It will be easier for me to answer that tomorrow. I certainly feel there is a basis for having a good session tomorrow. But we have to see what happens at the end of the day tomorrow. Again, this is not a negotiation. This is more of an effort to come up with a set of commonly agreed definitions. Again, what is disablement? Disablement is not just putting the reactor out of commission for three days. Disablement has to be something more than that. So we have a lot of issues like that to work on.

All right? Get some sleep.

Released on August 16, 2007

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