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Remarks to the Press on Arrival in Singapore

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Singapore
April 7, 2008

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: OK. Everyone set here? Everyone OK? Are we all OK? OK.

It’s great to be here in Singapore.

QUESTION: When will you meet with Kim Kye-gwan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we have a plan to meet him in the morning.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Tomorrow morning. I believe the first meeting will be at the U.S. Embassy, yes.

QUESTION: Ambassador Hill –

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Look, I’m sorry, I’m not the scheduler.

QUESTION: Why Singapore as the venue for the talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: There was some logistics, and it worked out very well for us.

(Various shouted questions)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You know, I wonder if we can do this somewhere else. This is really a little chaotic.

QUESTION: Can we organize? Everybody stand back.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the terrorism list is not the main issue of this meeting

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m sorry. Who said this?

QUESTION: Kim Kye-gwan, two hours ago.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we’re going to discuss getting through the various phases that we have to get through in order to realize the September ’05 statement. Obviously, we have to complete phase two, and of course I look forward to discussing the declaration in that connection.

I think, though, it’s important that we also discuss what comes next, because the purpose of the Six-Party process is not just to achieve a declaration. It’s to achieve all of the undertakings that are described in the September ’05 statement, including and especially the commitment for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

So that’s what we’re going to be discussing. I look forward to those discussions tomorrow with the DPRK representative. I will also have some discussions in Beijing -- including with the ROK and Japan heads of delegation as well as, of course, the Chinese, who are chair of this process.

I think what’s important for us to try to achieve is to get back to having a Six-Party meeting as soon as possible. It has been the judgement of the chair of the Six-Party process, the judgement that we share, that we should not try to have a Six-Party meeting until we can actually clarify and complete some of the issues that have held us up in the second phase.

So let’s see what I’m able to do, and perhaps after tomorrow we could have a, I could brief you all and let you know how things went before I head off to Beijing.

(Several simultaneous questions)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You know, you would make a terrible chorus. I can’t understand anything.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) in Seoul that we need to see if DPRK delivers new things or not. Did you get (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t recall saying that. I said what we need to do is to try to resolve the issue of the DPRK’s responsibility to provide a complete and correct declaration. And complete and correct means just that. We have had that problem for the last few months, and we have done some work on this. And we hope some of this work will pay off.

But I’m not in a position to predict what we will achieve tomorrow. And, frankly, we don’t go in with any preconditions. As I think Mr. Kim was trying to suggest to you all, we’re not going in with any preconditions or even a firm agenda. But I hope that we would be going in with an understanding that we have to achieve progress.

QUESTION: How far apart are your differences between you?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know. I’ll tell you after we overcome them.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) about the uranium enrichment program?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we’ll discuss all of the elements that would make a declaration complete and correct.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: As I said, we will discuss all elements of nuclear programs, materials, structures such that would make a declaration complete and correct.

QUESTION: Ambassador Hill, have you had any strong indications from the North Koreans in the negotiations leading up to today that they’re going to be coming here with something new on the table?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We’ve had a number – Look, I don’t want to describe who’s got something new. I just want to say we’ve had some discussions through the New York channel, and we’ll have to see if those discussions can lead to some progress – because we really do need to make some progress.

QUESTION: Do you plan to meet the South Koreans and Japanese in Beijing?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I do. And I will also probably, we will probably meet the Russian ambassador as well and brief him.

QUESTION: Would you meet with Kim Kye-gwan tonight?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I’m meeting some officials from the Singapore Foreign Ministry. Singapore is very gracious to host this event. I look forward to briefing the Singaporean Foreign Ministry and to discuss other issues of U.S. and Singaporean concern.

QUESTION: Are you optimistic about tomorrow’s meeting?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Now look, if you’ve been in this gaggle long enough you know I never say I’m optimistic. But I also never say I’m pessimistic. So let’s see.

QUESTION: Politically, Ambassador Hill, is it getting more and more difficult to sustain this in Washington, with the end of the Administration coming and everything? Are you running out of time?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I’m not running out of energy. But we have to do, we really do have to make some progress. I mean, we can’t afford any further delays here. So let’s see how we do.

QUESTION: Is that a yes?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I never say yes or no. (Laughter) That’s part of the Six-Party language. You never say yes or no; you never say optimistic or pessimistic. So you have to learn this stuff.

QUESTION: Are you expecting to get something new tomorrow?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know. We say “I don’t know” a lot.

QUESTION: So can we confirm again who you’re meeting in Beijing? Will that be also including the North Koreans?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, no – because I’m meeting them in Singapore. I’m meeting with the other representatives of the Six Parties, because the Six-Party –

QUESTION: Minus Russia?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I would look forward to briefing the Russian ambassador, whom I’ve briefed before on this. You know, it’s a long way from Russia to get to Beijing. I think what – Our goal is to try to get a Six-Party meeting going very soon, a meeting that the Chinese will need to schedule, need to organize. But our goal is to get moving on that very quickly so that we can try to get on and finish this task.

OK?

QUESTION: Are you going on to the ROK after Beijing?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’ll be seeing, I’ll be briefing the ROK, Japan, Russia in Beijing as far as I know. But I’m not the scheduler.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) last (inaudible) of some people until we have another Six-Party Talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know. I just don’t know. You tell me. I have no idea.

QUESTION: Do you expect to get a declaration on uranium and plutonium tomorrow?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We want to discuss that. It’s not for the U.S. to get the declaration. That’s for the DPRK to submit to China. So I want to emphasize -- these are discussions; these are consultations. We’ll be having other consultations with other parties tomorrow in Beijing -- I’m sorry, the next day in Beijing. And we’ll have to see how we are by the end of this week and see whether we can get moving with a Six-Party meeting as soon as possible.

OK?

QUESTION: Thank you.



Released on April 7, 2008

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