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Remarks Upon Departure From Six-Party Talks

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Embassy
Beijing, China
April 9, 2008

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ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Hi. How are you? I’ve just come from briefing and talking about the Six-Party process with the chair of the Six-Party process, Vice Minister Wu Dawei. I’ve also had the occasion today to talk about the situation with my ROK counterpart, Minister Chun Young-woo. And this morning I met with my Japanese counterpart (inaudible) Saiki-san to discuss where we are.

Yesterday in Singapore, I had a long series of discussions with my DPRK counterpart, Mr. Kim Kye Gwan. I would say these were good discussions that I think allowed us to make some progress as we try to get through this difficult -- what has turned out to be difficult -- second phase.

I want to stress that we haven’t yet arranged for all the factors, all the elements that need to be put together. Obviously, this is a package. We are talking about a declaration that has several elements. One of the key ones, of course, would be the amount of plutonium that the DPRK declares. But we’ve been able to have very good discussions on some of the other key factors that have allowed us to go forward.

Again, as is always the case in the Six-Party process, nothing is agreed unless everything is agreed. So we have to continue to work on what an overall package of elements there’ll be in order to conclude phase two and then get on to the very important phase three -- where we anticipate, or we look forward to, dealing with the question of the DPRK separated plutonium and seeing what kind of overall arrangements can be made to have that third phase be the phase that fulfills the September '05 statement of principles to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

All in all, though, I would say it has been a good couple of days. I think some of the work that we were able to do in Singapore was work that was kicked off when Secretary Rice was here and we were talking to our Chinese counterparts. So we have done a lot of work with China on this. And a lot of what I talked about with Kim Kye Gwan in Singapore reflects the work we’ve done with the other parties, including work especially with the Japanese and the ROK.

So we have a lot of work ahead of us. I wouldn’t want to suggest there is any major breakthrough. I think we will be, as the days go by, we will be announcing some efforts to try to move ahead and complete this second phase. I don’t have anything to announce today, but I will be getting on a plane in a few minutes, heading back to Washington. I’ll be talking about this, where we are, with Secretary Rice, and I think I have a Congressional hearing on Thursday. So the work will very much continue.

Maybe I can take a question or two?

QUESTION: Do you expect a partial declaration from the DPRK? (Inaudible.)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we will continue to be in close contact with the DPRK, as we are with other partners. I think people need to understand this continues to be very much a Six-Party process, and proposals we make to the DPRK need to be worked out within and by Six-Party members. So, as always, China remains a very key factor in all of this, which is why it was very important to get back here and talk to the Chinese and see where we go from here.

Obviously, if we can finalize the issue of the declaration, that will be a key moment -- because the declaration needs to be submitted to the Chinese chair. China then needs to bring the Six Parties together. We need to look at the overall declaration, make sure it is consistent with our expectations, and then we have to have to look ahead at how we are going to deal with the next phase. China is very much the key factor in this, and that’s why it is very important to stay very close to China.

QUESTION: What specifics did you and Kim Kye Gwan discuss in Singapore?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we did get into some specific issues. There were detailed discussions, but I’m not sure I really want to discuss them in the press right now -- except to say they were very detailed. And in the Six-Party process, if you don’t discuss details, you’re bound to be tripped up by them. We do need to discuss them and make sure we have a clear understanding, and we did just that. But no, I don’t want to get into those right now.

QUESTION: How close are we now to getting a declaration from the DPRK?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we’ve definitely made progress on it. And, again, every time I measure the time, I’m always wrong. Just check with other people who have asked me the questions about when we’re going to get something done. But we’ve definitely made some progress on it. I think we’re going to try to do some more things in the next few days in terms of trying to tee up what needs to be done for this second phase. And we’ll see if we can, at that point, have a better time estimate. As I’ve said before, we don’t have a lot of time, and that’s why we really do need to put it in place.

QUESTION: Can the declaration be direct or indirect? Can it have an attachment --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The format issue is, we’ve had discussions about that. We’ve talked about that with all the partners. I don’t think we have a problem with format. I think it’s a declaration process, if you will. Whether it has three pieces of paper or two pieces of paper is not a big issue for us. The issue is that it has to be complete and correct in order to make some progress.

QUESTION: How big an obstacle is North Korean-Syrian cooperation to the process?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The issue of the DPRK’s nuclear cooperation with other countries has been a major issue. That is something that we have had considerable discussions about, and we will probably continue to talk about it. But I think it’s something that, together with other things, we will need to have all resolved as we get to the end of this. I would just say we talked about that and other things, and we did make progress.

MODERATOR: We have time for one more question, as long as it’s a short question.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Tomo, have you ever asked a short question in your life? All right, we’ll try this -- your first ever. Go ahead.

QUESTION: What do you need to tee up in the next few days – is it time or obstacles?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Time. It’s time. Time and logistics. Time and logistics, they can be obstacles. But we are dealing with time and logistics.

Okay, sorry there’s not more news for you, guys. But that’s the way it goes in this business.

See you later.



Released on April 9, 2008

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