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Remarks Upon Arrival at Incheon Airport

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Seoul, South Korea
September 30, 2008

QUESTION: Any opening speech?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I don’t have any statement. I’m looking forward to consulting this evening with my counterpart --with Ambassador Kim Sook. And we will see what happens when I go up to the DPRK tomorrow.

QUESTION: Are you going to North Korea tomorrow?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: As far as I know, we’re going tomorrow.

QUESTION: What do you hope to get accomplished there?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Let’s see if we can make some progress on phase two. Obviously, we need to finish the verification mechanism and then move on from there.

QUESTION: North Korea is still reluctant on the samplings and the access on the nuclear facilities?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I know they’re reluctant. Let’s see what they say. Let’s sit down and have a conversation to see if we can resolve this matter.

QUESTION: So how long are you going to stay in North Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know. Obviously we’d like to see if we can make some progress on this. So let’s first see whether we’re going to make some progress.

QUESTION: I heard that you were invited by North Koreans. Do you take it as a good sign - a positive sign?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I’ll be able to answer that better in a couple of days. Let me just say we’ve had some discussions through the New York channel. We thought it would be useful to try to have those discussions in Pyongyang, and that’s why I am going. So let’s see if we can make some progress on this.

QUESTION: Is there any special proposal visiting North Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I am sorry?

QUESTION: Is there any special proposal visiting North Korea, especially about…?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Is there any special proposal from them? Not that I am aware of. But again, we’ll sit down, we’ll go through this thing, and see if we can make some progress. I mean these are -- there are obviously some issues. We need to make sure that we are going be able to verify their declaration. So let’s see if we can come up with measures that will allow us to verify the declaration. And what we also want to do is move on, complete our obligations in phase two which include, of course, taking them off the terrorism list. So let’s see how we do. And I’ll be able to talk to you or I’ll have more to say when I come back. Okay?

QUESTION: If North Korea restarts its reprocessing plant, what happens to economic and energy aid?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, I don’t want to go into the hypothetical questions. Obviously, our focus is on trying to get these verification measures agreed, so that we can get on and complete phase two, and get on with phase three at some point.

QUESTION: Are you having a plan to visit Yongbyon as well?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t have any plan to visit Yongbyon. I think it will just be to Pyongyang.

QUESTION: And meeting only Kim Kye Gwan or…?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know. You never know what your schedule is. We made several requests. And when I get there, they’ll let us know.

QUESTION: Are you coming back to Seoul after visiting North Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think the plan is to come back to Seoul, yes. Okay? All right. See you later.

QUESTION: See you tonight at the Lotte Hotel.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, tonight? I will have a lot more to say tonight, I guess.

QUESTION: Are you going to North Korea through Panmunjom?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You know, you have to check with the Embassy. I am not sure how it’s all being done.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, how do you evaluate this state (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we’ve had more difficult times before, and obviously we’re going through a difficult time. But let me see how we can do in Pyongyang.

QUESTION: Are you sure you can overcome this crisis?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I have no idea.

QUESTION: Reporters from Kyodo News.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Kyodo? There was someone from Kyodo on the airplane.

QUESTION: Yes. We were waiting for you for a long time. Will you submit a verification plan less rigorous, less (inaudible) in North Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Will I do what?

QUESTION: Submit the verification plan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we are going to talk about what we need on verification, and the plan was always to get a verifiable declaration. We don’t have a verification plan, so we’ve had a problem. So let’s see if we can solve that problem.

QUESTION: So are you confident that you will bring back good result from (North Korea)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I have no idea. I should ask you. Kyodo usually knows more than I do about that (laughter).

QUESTION: How long are you staying in Pyongyang?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know.

QUESTION: [Are you] meeting with Kim Kye Gwan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think I will meet with Kim Kye Gwan. And presumably there’ll be some other appointments, but I just don’t know. So, I’ll know better when I come back.

QUESTION: Last question. I am interested in your comments about the rumors of the North Korean leader’s health.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m sorry. I don’t have anything more on that. Sorry. See you later.

QUESTION: Thank you.


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