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Morning Walk-Through at Six-Party Talks

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
China World Hotel
Beijing, China
July 10, 2008

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Hi. I haven’t done much since I saw you last, except have a night’s sleep. I’m off to meet my Russian counterpart, and then I meet with the Chinese. And then I think Mr. Saiki will get in from Japan, and so I’ll meet with him before we have a trilateral meeting with the Japanese and the ROK. And then we’ll go to the Six-Party meeting.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, what are your prospects for an agreement to be reached by the six parties during this round of talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We don’t know. Obviously, we’re going to focus very much on the verification regime to wrap up this phase. We’ve been discussing that with all the other partners in the process, so I don’t think there will be any surprises. But then we’ll see if we can put something together.

QUESTION: Kim Sook said last night that there is still pretty much difference between the position of North Koreans and them. What would you say?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I really don’t know. It’s still too early to tell what the differences are. We certainly laid out what we need, and they’ve heard it before. I think the important thing is that we’ll be going in without any surprises. Everyone understands what the verification regime is. We’ve discussed the basic principles of it before. So I think we’ll go in with that understanding, and we’ll see if we can get something. Of course, as I’ve mentioned the other day, these things do tend to depend on the details, and so we have a lot of work to do.

QUESTION: Do you expect that Japan and North Korea to have talks during the (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You have to ask them. I do expect them to meet on the margins and have a bilateral discussion. I very definitely have those expectations.

QUESTION: Are you going to advise the North Koreans to hold the talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m not their consultant, but obviously the issue of their relations with Japan was one of the subjects that I discussed with them. I do have an expectation that there will be a meeting of some kind, but you will have to ask them.

QUESTION: Not just on the verification regime, but on the completion of the energy assistance, can we expect some clear picture of when we conclude?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The issue there is -- I think we have an understanding of where we need to be because we are looking to wrap up a lot of the steps in phase two. We’re looking to wrap that up in the fall, including the provision of the energy assistance, the 950,000 tons [of heavy fuel oil]. We have an understanding that that would be done. But we also have to figure out who will do what and when.

There will be an energy meeting, and I think they will be working that out. As you recall from the February ’03 – I’m sorry, it seems like ’03 – February ’07 statement, we had four countries (U.S., Russia, the ROK and China) providing fuel oil and fuel oil equivalents, with Japan not participating with the other partners until Japan’s interests are met. The four of us will work out what we have to do.

QUESTION: At this time, is North Korea asking for a guarantee from Japan about energy?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No. I think North Korea is not so much concerned about where it is coming from. But they want to see that there is a plan to get it there and want to make sure that the parties that are part of the energy effort are doing it. We have to look at that. And, as I said, there will be an energy meeting to follow up on some of the discussions that took place in Panmunjom on June 10.

QUESTION: What time do you expect to be back today?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You should never ask me about timing. I never know. (Laughter)

Released on July 10, 2008

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