Remarks to the Press at the Presidential PalaceChristopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
April 4, 2008
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Thank you very much. Let me first say that it’s a great honor to come here to the Presidential Palace and have the opportunity to brief President Yudhoyono on how we seeing the situation, especially the North Korean nuclear situation. But there was also an opportunity to discuss other issues, problems in the region, and assess the very positive U.S.-Indonesian relationship. This is a relationship that is extremely important to the United States. And it’s been very gratifying to see the progress within Indonesia, progress that has been made across the board in the economy, and in political issues. We look forward to continuing our defense consultations. I might add as well that I brought best wishes from President Bush to President Yudhoyono.
QUESTION: The United States has offered Indonesia to take part as a mediator between the North and South Korea? Is it true that your will meet with your DPRK facilitator later in Singapore or in Beijing after you leave Dili?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: First of all, no, we did not discuss any mediator role for Indonesia or for anyone else in the current situation with respect to North Korea’s statements towards South Korea. There have been a number of (inaudible) that we consider those statements were rather inappropriate and certainly rather unhelpful to the situation. But I think South Koreans have very good relations with all countries, including Indonesia, and are certainly capable of making their views known directly to North Korea.
Now with respect to the possibility of my meeting with my North Korean/DPRK counterpart, I am not in a position at this time to make any announcement of when we will meet. I will tell you that we’ve worked hard over recent weeks to see if we can conclude this stage in the negotiations and find a way to make sure that we can get from the DPRK a complete and correct declaration that covers all of their nuclear programs and nuclear activities. So we have worked hard over the week. We have made some progress in that regard. But whether we’ve reached an agreement, I can’t tell you yet. But certainly we will look forward to getting together on that some time. When we are prepared to announce it, you will be the first to know.
QUESTION: North Korea launched another missile last Friday. At this point, what do you think is the real intention of its nuclear program? Is it to disarm? (Inaudible)? What is your strategy in dealing with them?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, certainly it continues to be a very difficult issue. We have been going through phase two, and on the DPRK side that requires a couple of obligations. One is the obligation to disable its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, and the second obligation is to provide a complete and correct declaration.
With respect to the disabling, in fact there has been a lot of progress there. The DPRK, together with American technicians operating on behalf of the Six Parties, has engaged in a number of disablement activities such that the Yongbyon nuclear facility cannot be easily turned back on. We’ve disabled that activity, and for the first time this is (inaudible). And they have gone pretty well. You’re correct that they haven’t been finished yet, but they have been substantially completed with a few more activities still to go.
The problem has been to get the DPRK to do a complete and correct declaration. You’re absolutely right. They are well past due in terms of completing this. Again, when deadlines are missed, you certainly have to assess your interests and assess what you’re going to do about the fact that the deadline has been missed. But it is our view that it is worthwhile to continue with this process. Progress has been made on the effort to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear programs. There has been progress especially in the disablement activities, and we think its worth continuing that to see if we can finish the job.
Released on April 4, 2008