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Comments to Reporters Upon Arrival in Japan

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Narita Airport
Tokyo, Japan
September 25, 2007

QUESTION: North Korea could be dropped off U.S. terrorist traffic before proving accounting for the Japanese people who have been abducted. What’s between?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m sorry; I haven’t seen the press statement. As you know, we’re engaged in a number of processes, but the most important thing we’re doing is working on the Six Parties to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As part of that, of course, there are a number of bilateral meetings going on, including the North Korean-Japanese bilateral and also the North Korean-U.S. And what I’ll be doing here in Tokyo is to compare notes with my counterpart, Mr. Sasae, and we look forward to continuing our very close coordination with Japan. Any issues in the U.S. bilateral discussions, of course, will be discussed with the Japanese side so that we’re well coordinated.

QUESTION: Is the U.S.A. willing to come to agreement with the DPRK?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We are dealing with those issues, but there have been no decisions made; nothing’s been done yet. Obviously, this is something the DPRK very much wants, but we have made it very clear it’s going to depend on further denuclearization. Any other questions?

QUESTION: Is it true that the United States has prepared to ship 50,000 (tons of) oil – heavy oil – to DPRK at this end of the year?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, we are beginning to – As you recall, we have from the February agreement an agreement on the provision of heavy fuel oil to help with the DPRK’s conventional electricity plants. The first shipment of 50,000 tons was in respect of the shutdown of the Yongbyon facility, and further shipments are in respect of the plans for disabling and providing a complete declaration of nuclear programs. I think the first of those was the Chinese, and the U.S. expects to do our part as well. And this is all part of the plan to provide them with 950,000 tons of fuel in respect of a full declaration and disabling of their facilities.

QUESTION: How do you view the new government under Fukuda?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: First of all, the U.S. had a very excellent relationship with the Abe administration. We very much look forward to having the same kind of excellent cooperation with the new government. The U.S. very much values its Japan relationship. Secretary Rice just met with Mr. Machimura on Saturday. The meeting (inaudible) was very productive. So I think we’ll continue to have a very good relationship.

QUESTION: So are you planning to talk with Mr. Kim Gye-gwan on the 26th of September?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think I’ll have some bilateral meetings ahead of the Six-Party meeting, which takes place on Thursday. So I think I’ll have some bilateral meetings that would begin on Wednesday. And I think a bilateral meeting with Kim Gye-gwan would be one of those. But the first thing I’m going to do today here in Tokyo is go in and see my Japanese counterpart. So that will be my first of the bilateral meetings.

QUESTION: There is a report that the Six-Party nations expect the DPRK will pledge nuclear disablement under the control of the IAEA. Do you agree on that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, we’ll be discussing how to handle the monitoring and, actually, the execution of the disablement. So that’ll be something that we discuss in the Six-Party meeting. We’ll be waiting to get a report in the Six-Party meeting from the experts who recently visited. There are experts from the three nuclear-weapons states in the Six-Party agreement -- that is, Russia, China, and the U.S. -- and they’ll be giving a report to the six parties.

QUESTION: What are you talking about with Mr. Sasae?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we need to compare notes. I like to compare notes on how our bilateral processes are doing, and then we need to compare notes about how we’re going to coordinate our positions when we go to Beijing. The U.S. and Japan worked very, very closely together – continually working very closely together – and we want to continue that.

QUESTION: Tomorrow will you go to Beijing with Mr. Sasae?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think my flight is sometime in the afternoon, and I’ll check with him on his flight as well. But I’m not sure if we’re on the same airplane or not.

QUESTION: Quick question. Could I have your comment on the DPRK going to talk directly with the Syrian government in their nuclear development?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, again, I don’t have anything more to add to all of those issues. I’ve made some comments already on those issues.

OK, I don’t want to be late for Mr. Sasae. Thank you all.

Released on September 25, 2007

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