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Morning Walk-Through With Journalists at Six-Party Talks

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Grand Hyatt Hotel
Beijing, China
May 28, 2008

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ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Hi. I really don’t have much new to report to you this morning. I’m just on my way to meet the DPRK delegation. We’ll meet at our embassy. I think we’ll start at 10:00 and, depending on the discussion, we probably will go to lunch. Then our plan is to meet with the Chinese later in the afternoon and then to meet the Japanese delegation this evening at dinner.

Tomorrow I go on to Moscow, where we’ll meet with the Russians. I believe the ROK Six-Party representative is also there. So I will have an opportunity to see him and then head on back to Washington.

QUESTION: In yesterday’s session, have the North Koreans shown any willingness to go forward with the abduction issue?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, we discussed very broadly what our schedule was going to be and what the elements are going to be that we are trying to sequence as we try to get to the end of this phase two. I think we’ll have a lot more in-depth discussions today.

QUESTION: How has the response been from Washington so far on the negotiations on a statement?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, I don’t move without getting instructions. I’ve been in touch a couple of times since I last talked to you all (inaudible) my instructions. I am pretty comfortable with where we’re going. So we’ll see what happens.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, these discussions are happening at a time when North Korea is experiencing severe economic and food hardships again. Do you think that’s playing into how they are addressing these issues, and how do you intend to address those issues?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know the effect on how they’re looking at the Six Parties. Certainly, they have had some severe food problems. I know a number of countries are looking at what to do. In particular, the U.S. has announced a food assistance plan, and we’ll be following up with them on that. But that’s not in the framework of the Six Parties.

QUESTION: You said yesterday, last night, that you would be talking about a timeframe today. Do you hope to get one today, to finalize one today?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I hope we can get an overall timeframe that I can take back to Washington. There won’t be any announcements today on that. But I hope we can make some very definitive progress on that so that I can carry something back to Washington and discuss it with the other parties as well.

QUESTION: Ambassador Hill, Sean McCormack yesterday in the gaggle at the State Department said that the abduction issue can be resolved within the confines of the Six-Party talks. Is that (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t think there is any new news there. I think we have long maintained that what we have tried to do with this Six-Party platform – and I want to emphasize the importance not only of addressing the North Korean nuclear issue, but also the importance of how we address it, that is multilaterally -- by creating, as we have said in the past, creating a greater sense of neighborhood in the region and trying to address some of the long-standing problems between states in the region.

I have made very clear on many occasions to the DPRK delegation the importance that we attach to the improvement of relations with Japan. I think the Japanese Government -- this government as well as the previous government, the government before that -- has made very clear the importance of the abduction issue to the improvement of that bilateral relationship. That’s certainly a message that we’ve also conveyed to the DPRK.

All right. See you later.

Released on May 28, 2008

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