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Press Availability With Director-General Kenichiro Sasae of Japan

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tokyo, Japan
November 28, 2007

[Note: Director-General Sasae spoke in Japanese, and his statements and the questions to him are not included.]

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Thank you very much. This is my first stop on a trip through the region to talk with partners in the Six-Party process in anticipation of a possible meeting of the heads of delegation in Beijing in the latter part of next week.

It was a good opportunity here in Tokyo to discuss the progress in this phase, that is disablement and the expected declaration from the DPRK, and an opportunity to talk about where we stand and where we will be at the end of the year. Of course, this does not end the process of denuclearization. We have a lot more work to do in the coming year. But in order to get to that work, we have to make sure that this process, or this phase, goes well.

So from here I look forward to going to Seoul. And then from there I will go to Pyongyang and meet with my DPRK counterpart. I was pleased that, today as we talked, that the members of the six parties, including Japanese members of the six parties, were able to go down to Yongbyon and see firsthand some of the disablement activity that is going on there. So I think we are making progress, and clearly we have more to do. But I think we are on schedule for getting to the end of the year and getting all of our commitments done.

QUESTION: [Translated from Japanese] What is your expectation regarding the complete declaration of nuclear programs that North Korea is to provide?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think the complete listing of the nuclear programs is going to be a process. That is, I don't think it will be done in one day. I think it will involve the DPRK giving us a draft. And then I think there will be discussions, and there will be adjustments to the draft. So I think it's a process that will be completed this month, but not on this day.

By that I mean that we are not looking to somehow create a situation where we have a crisis, where we are in a situation where we are accusing the DPRK of not providing full disclosure. Rather, we want to work with the DPRK so that there can be a complete understanding and a complete clarity about these nuclear programs. Because we want to be able to share the same goal, which is the agreement that we all agreed to in September ’05, which is the complete denuclearization.

QUESTION: With the Six-Party process and the U.S.-DPRK process proceeding [inaudible], what kind of thing do you think is missing that is required for Japan and for North Korea to do?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: As you know, in the Six-Party process, we consider this a broad framework for dealing with a number of issues in the region, one of which is the U.S.-DPRK bilateral relationship, and second is the Japan-DPRK bilateral relationship. And one of the reasons that I make so many trips to Tokyo, and Sasae-san has made frequent trips to Washington, is to compare notes and to try to make sure that these processes are moving ahead. Now obviously, they will not move ahead simultaneously, and at times one or the other will move very slowly. But I think we are committed to trying to make sure that both of these bilateral processes move ahead.

And I do believe that there is a strong logic, from the DPRK's point of view, there is a strong reason to try to improve its relationship with Japan. This is something the DPRK should be interested in doing. It's a point I've made on many occasions to representatives from the DPRK. And I'm confident that as we move forward, we will see progress.

QUESTION: [inaudible] by the end of the year. Does that mean you think it’s likely that the U.S. will decide to at least state that it’s going to take North Korea off the state sponsors of terrorism list?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, we have a number of obligations that are set for the end of the year. We're pursuing a number of these things, and where we get to at the end of the year, we will have to see. But I think things are moving ahead. And most importantly, I think, is denuclearization, that is the disablement of this Yongbyon facility -- that until we were able to have it shut down this summer, until that happened, it was producing plutonium.

And so, I think we have made some progress. And I would expect all elements to move ahead by the end of the year. But I don't want to get into the specifics of it until we actually see where we are at the end of the year.



Released on November 28, 2007

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