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Press Availability With Kim Sook, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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

[Note: Special Representative Kim Sook spoke in Korean, and his comments are not included.]

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Thanks very much. Well it’s a pleasure to be back here in Seoul. We just had some very good consultations across the range of issues that we’re dealing with - especially in regard to trying to complete phase two of the denuclearization arrangements. Obviously this has been a very difficult period. We have had a number of discussions with our Six-Party partners, including last week in New York when Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan discussed this. And we also talked about the fact that we had been in touch with the North Koreans through the New York channel, and the fact that we have decided to move those discussions to Pyongyang.

At this point I can’t really tell you what is going to happen in Pyongyang. Obviously we are going to try to get through the phase two issues, namely the need to have an agreement on what verification will look like. It is not to say that we are going to have anything verified; the verification will actually take place later on. But we need to know what the rules of the road are for verification. And we have put together graphs in that regard, and we have had these discussions, really, all summer. So I will be in a better position, I think, in a couple of days to really tell you where we are. But for now I will be heading up there tomorrow. And I will be meeting with my DPRK counterpart, Kim Kye Gwan, and we will see how we do.

QUESTION: Does verification include uranium enrichment?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I mean we will always talk about a sort of verification package, and the fact that with respect to uranium enrichment, we have had some considerable discussions with the DPRK. And what is important is we need to be able to continue to address that issue until our concerns are satisfied. So that is in the overall verification package.

QUESTION: Did North Korea break the nuclear agreement by removing the nuclear seals and starting to reassemble?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I would say that what they have been doing obviously goes counter to the spirit of what we have been trying to accomplish, because all of the disablement, the shutdown, and the disablement was for the purpose of abandonment. It was not for the purpose of any efforts that reverse it. So I would say we are in a very difficult, a very tough, phase of the negotiation. And again, the full importance of that, I think, will be seen when we determine which way we are finally headed on this.

Thank you.

Released on September 30, 2008

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