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Remarks With Korean Special Representative Kim Sook

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Kim Sook, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Seoul, South Korea
October 3, 2008

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

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, good to see you all. I’ve just come from briefing Ambassador Kim Sook on my trip to Pyongyang. I went with a fairly small delegation including Ambassador Sung Kim. Many of you may have heard that Sung Kim has just been approved by the U.S. Senate for the Ambassador rank. So I was with Ambassador Sung Kim and Paul Haenle from the NSC staff and Eliot Kang, who is from our nonproliferation area.

We went to Pyongyang to have substantive -- and what turned out to be very substantive and very lengthy -- discussions about the issue of the verification protocol to get through the second phase. As I said, the meetings were indeed very lengthy and indeed very substantive.

I briefed the Korean government on these meetings. From here, I will go and meet with my Japanese counterpart, Ambassador Saiki, to brief the Japanese government. Tomorrow my plan is to go to Beijing to brief the Chinese, and also I will see the Russian Ambassador there. And finally tomorrow night, I will go back to Washington. And that’s when I will get the opportunity to brief Secretary Rice on these discussions.

So while I know that you are very interested in what happened, and what the results are, and what it means for the Six-Party Talks, I would really ask your indulgence. Because I really do need to brief the other Six-Party members, including my own Secretary of State, before I brief the press. What I can tell you is the discussions in Pyongyang were quite substantive. We went into great detail on things. They were quite lengthy. They were conducted primarily with my counterpart there, Mr. Kim Kye Gwan, and his team. I did have the opportunity to meet with the Foreign Minister there and to talk to him about the issue. And I also met with a member of the Korean People’s Army, General Ri Chan Bok. And we had a general exchange of views.

So I will right now, I think, get on to see my Japanese counterpart and then go on with these consultations. And we will take it from there. I know that probably our ministers will be in touch with each other. And we know that this has been a very difficult - very tough - phase of the Six-Party process. But I think I can assure you all that all of our delegations are working very hard to see what we can do.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, when you say the talks were lengthy, do you mean there were disagreements between the two parties?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think we had lengthy talks because - first of all - I have not met with Kim Kye Gwan for over -- about two months -- I think, was the last meeting if I recall correctly. I think it was in July. So we had a lot of catching up to do. And needless to say, there’s been a lot of problems in the Six-Party process. So, indeed, we did quite a substantial review of the activities in the last several months.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about the situation in Yongbyon? Have they agreed to stop the reactivation of the plants?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know. I don’t have any update of what is going on in Yongbyon. As of a few days ago, they had taken some actions, including the breaking of seals. I don’t have any additional information on what’s going on. Obviously the issue in Yongbyon is an issue that has been of great concern to us, and obviously that was one of the points that I conveyed.

QUESTION: In what areas (inaudible) did you make major progress?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I don’t want to talk about any of the substance of these discussions. I need to brief other official delegations in the Six-Party Talks. And last, but certainly not least, I need to give a full briefing to my own boss, Secretary Rice.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t want to say I’m satisfied. I simply -- just to tell you they were lengthy, they really were detailed and very substantive. And I need to report to my Secretary on those talks.

QUESTION: Did the talks turn out to be longer than expected?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The length of the talks turned out to be lengthier. (laughter)

QUESTION: Were you discussing the verification protocol?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We were discussing all phases of completing phase two -- all aspects of the completion of phase two -- including and especially the issue of verification.

QUESTION: (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m sorry, you just asked three questions (laughter). Give this poor lady over here a chance.

QUESTION: Do you think you made any progress on (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I don’t want to talk about progress, and I don’t want to talk about specific issues. I just want to tell you there were lengthy, detailed discussions. And I need to brief my boss on precisely what those discussions are, so that she can make decisions about our next step.

QUESTION: Do you think your visit was useful?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, it was a lengthy, involved discussion (laughter). I think any time you have the opportunity to talk to a key counterpart that you haven’t seen for a couple of months -- and after a couple of months of a lot of activity and not all of it positive activity -- I would say that the opportunity to talk to my counterpart was useful.

Ok? I think I’m keeping my Japanese counterpart waiting, and I really would like to get on to see him.


ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we are meeting him at the American residence.

Released on October 3, 2008

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