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Evening Walk-Through at Six-Party Talks

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
China World Hotel
Beijing, China
June 24, 2008

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ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t have too much to report this afternoon. I just met with the Russian ambassador and briefed him on what we’ve been doing and what the sense is about getting along with the declaration.

So, any questions?

QUESTION: Ambassador Hill. It seems like the language has changed a little bit in the phase terminology. It used to always be phase two and phase three, and now you’re saying in a subsequent phase. Are you thinking now that it may go beyond three phases?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I’m not. I certainly didn’t mean to change any of the terminology. What I’ve said before is, in concluding phase two we’ve had a lot of bilateral meetings, and we think now is the time to really reinforce the Six Parties. And so we’ve been talking to the Chinese side about scheduling the next Six-Party meeting and hopefully getting moving on the next phase, phase three.

QUESTION: So you’re expecting to wrap everything up if possible within phase three?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, that’s certainly our intention. We don’t want to go onto phase seventeen or something.

QUESTION: Can you please let us know what the sequencing is like at the moment? (Inaudible) what happens next?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think Dr. Rice laid this out in her speech at the Heritage Foundation the other day. Essentially, we’re talking about a declaration that would be followed by the U.S. bilateral actions. The plan would then be, the Chinese would take the declaration that they would receive and then call a Six-Party meeting. I’m not sure whether it would be a full meeting or a head of delegation. We’re pretty flexible on that, but the Chinese need to check with all the other parties.

I think we would hope to do that very soon after the delivery of the declaration. I think all the parties would need to be looking at the declaration to assess whether it’s verifiable in their view. And if all that works, then we would begin the process of going through verification -- that is, to set up a verification regime, which is based on verification principles that we’ve all been talking about within the Six Parties. And so the verification regime then would, we would get going and verify the declaration. But while that is happening, concurrently phase three would be begin.

In phase three we would have to meet, and I would presume it would be soon after the delivery of the declaration. And what we would do is try to determine what the scope of phase three is. To pick up on the previous question about how we would see the scope, we would see the scope of phase three as being the abandonment phase -- that is, the point at which, pursuant to the September ’05 agreement, the DPRK would abandon all of its nuclear programs, all of its nuclear weapons. So it’s right out there; I think it’s paragraph two of the first section of the September ’05 statement.

QUESTION: What was the message from North Koreans this morning?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You know, I’m not even sure. I mean, it was some specific things we were talking about for going forward. I mean, nothing all that important.

QUESTION: Are North Koreans still committed to submit declaration?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The North Koreans are still committed to turning in the declaration, yes.

QUESTION: About the verification regime, Secretary Rice talked about the Chinese, U.S. and Russia (inaudible). Is that what you’re looking for?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think there are a couple of things we’re looking for. One is a verification regime, which would deal with how to verify the declaration. We have had extensive discussions with the DPRK, and the DPRK has said that they are committed to cooperating fully on verification. So, obviously, the verification regime needs to be worked out, and that would be done within the Six Parties.

We’ve also talked about the need for setting up an ability to monitor all the agreements that are reached within the Six Parties. For example, we had agreements in the October ’07 Six Parties which dealt with, for example, fuel oil and dealt with proliferation issues. So we would expect to be dealing with those things as well.

So, beyond that, we would hope to pursue both the verification and monitoring of commitments while we begin to set out the scope and the sequencing of phase three, which in our view should be the abandonment phase. And so we have to sit down and work that out.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) right now, and what does it mean to you? And can you trust the North Koreans?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You asked that question this morning. I answered it this morning. So I didn’t understand it this morning. I don’t understand it now. Sorry.

QUESTION: At this morning’s meeting with North Korea, did you focus on the --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I didn’t have a meeting with the North Koreans.

QUESTION: Mr. Sung Kim had a meeting with the North Koreans.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m sorry, they were just passing some messages along. And so, I’m sorry, I just don’t have much for you on that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Xi Jinping’s visit to North Korea, and did you get any --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: He’s not back yet. So I haven’t been able to talk to him.

QUESTION: Was the Chinese Foreign Ministry -- ?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I haven’t been able to get a read-out on that yet. We’re discussing a lot of things having to do with the declaration. So I wasn’t able to get to it.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) bilateral measures taken toward terrorism, are you waiting for the verification before you do that? Or you’re doing that and then the declaration?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The verification regime needs to be set up within a very specific time – within 45 days. We would hope the verification regime would not take 45 days to set up. But, obviously, it’s based on some concepts of how to proceed. So nothing in it should be a surprise to anybody. We would hope that we would have that done pretty quickly, because we’d like to set up the regime and then get on with verifying things.

The key element of the declaration, of course, is the North Koreans -- in addition to laying out all their facilities -- have to give us a verifiable figure on how much plutonium they have. And remember plutonium here is really the heart of the game, because that is the stuff they make bombs out of. So we need to have a pretty clear picture of what the plutonium is. And then we go to the next phase, and we hope to get that same amount of plutonium abandoned -- that is, turned over. So, we’ve got a lot of work.

OK. See you all later.


Released on June 24, 2008

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