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Evening Walkthrough at Six-Party Talks

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
China World Hotel
Beijing, China
September 5, 2008

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I really don’t have much for you today. I’m planning to meet with Minister Wu Dawei tomorrow morning at nine o’clock. And prior to doing that, we thought this was a good opportunity to get together with our ROK and Japanese counterparts. So we had a meeting of the three of us tonight to kind of review the situation and see where we are. And I think both my Japanese and ROK counterparts will also be seeing Wu Dawei tomorrow. And then we’ll compare notes and see where we are.

QUESTION: Why do you think North Korea is doing this right now? What’s the --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: They are very clear they have concerns about the verification protocol. And I think we’ve made equally clear - as have the other members of the Six-Party process - that part of the declaration is to have a verification protocol. You can’t have a declaration without a verification protocol. And so, we have, I think, publicly said on a number of occasions that we’re prepared to complete our obligations as they complete theirs. But a declaration without a protocol is only half of the obligation.

QUESTION: Have you come up with some new ideas or proposals to reach out to North Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, not really. I think we all agree on what the DPRK needs to do in terms of agreeing with the protocol. As you know, the DPRK has been trying to conduct the negotiations through the press with statements about their concern that we’re somehow proposing house-to-house searches. And of course, this is not at all what we’re doing. And so we need a means to verify their declaration.

So, we’ll talk to the Chinese about it. I’m sure the Chinese have had some discussions as well. And we’ll see what they say. I’ll also use the occasion while I’m here to brief the Russian Ambassador, as well.

QUESTION: Ambassador Hill, what specifically are the North Koreans objecting to?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, publicly, what they’ve talked about is their concern that the protocol would allow us to quote “make house-to-house searches.” I think that was what the KCNA said. And of course, that’s not what our protocol would be doing, or what we would be interested in doing.

What we need to do is verify their nuclear declaration. And we have put together a protocol that’s based on some international standards, and certainly it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anybody. And I think there’s a lot of support within the Six-Party process for getting this done. So we’ll see how we do. But I think China - as the chair of the process - obviously has been following the situation closely and has a great interest in trying to make some more progress.

QUESTION: Ambassador Hill, are you expecting to meet any North Korean counterparts in the next few days?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m not. I’m planning to go back to Washington this weekend and to report back to Secretary Rice. As I always do when I come here, we let the DPRK know through the New York channel which days I’ll be here. But there are no plans for any meeting.

QUESTION: In the absence of a meeting with the North Koreans, what do you hope these meetings over the weekend will achieve?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I’m looking forward to hearing what the Chinese say about the process. We had a good Heads of Delegation meeting in July; we all agreed on what the elements of the protocol would be. We’re certainly prepared to sit down in Six-Party meetings again or directly with the North Koreans to hear their concerns about the protocol. So I’d like to hear what the Chinese say to us and what they’ve been doing lately. And we thought it was useful to come over here in Beijing and do that.

QUESTION: Does this come down to whatever pressure China can now apply on North Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think it’s a more complex equation than pressure that China can apply. I think all of us in the six parties want to get on with this. We’ve been discussing this protocol for some time. When we were in Singapore, all the Ministers all talked about this. Secretary Rice certainly did. All of the Ministers talked about the need to complete a protocol that is based on international standards.

So, I’m going to get some sleep, and we’ll find out -- Tomorrow morning I meet with Wu Dawei -- I think at nine o’clock -- and later in the morning I think I’ll have the occasion to brief the Russian Ambassador. And then we’ll take it from there. I’m not sure what the rest of the day will be like.

QUESTION: Ambassador Hill,is there any information about North Korea preparing to shoot (inaudible) for the September?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t have any information on that.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, I don’t want to respond to a hypothetical. I don’t have any information for you on that. Okay? See you later.

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Released on September 5, 2008

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