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Remarks Upon Arrival in Japan

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Press Stakeout at Narita Airport
Tokyo, Japan
December 2, 2008

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Hi. It's good to be back. I'll be seeing Mr. Saiki tonight, and then we’ll have a trilateral tomorrow. And then I think I’ll leave tomorrow afternoon and go on to Singapore.

QUESTION: So what will you propose for the discussion with Japan and South Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think that all the discussions have to do with the upcoming Six-Party head of delegation meeting, which takes place in Beijing next week. So we want to first have a meeting of the ROK and Japan and the U.S. to try to prepare and synchronize our positions for the upcoming meeting. So on the agenda, I think the main issue will be the verification protocol; we need to get that finalized. We also need to discuss finalizing the fuel delivery shipments - the heavy fuel oil. And finally we need to finalize the disablement, so that we can get on with the actual verification.

QUESTION: Do you already have any acceptable (inaudible) from North Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we’ve had a number of discussions with the North Koreans - most recently in New York a few weeks ago. So as I’ve said before, I think we have a way forward, but we'll have to see how the negotiations go at the Six-Party meeting.

QUESTION: Do you think that Japan and South Korea can approve your proposal?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, we've been in very close contact with Japan and South Korea. And in fact I just met with Aki Saiki just last Monday, so we'll discuss it some more. But I think we have a pretty good understanding among ourselves of what needs to be done.

QUESTION: I guess the key would be how to put the word “sampling” into the document?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well the key is how to ensure that we’re able to do what we need to do in terms of the verification. And obviously you need to be able to take things, and analyze them, and make sure they can help prove the overall figures that have been given to us in the declaration by the North Koreans.

There are a number of areas where we need to be able to do some things. We need to be able to look at documents - we’ve already received a lot of documents. We need to be able to interview their personnel, and it looks like we’ll be able to do that. And thirdly we need to be able to make site visits, which involve using scientific procedures. And I think we have a pretty good definition of what that is. So we need to get this all in a protocol and get on with the work.

QUESTION: So in Singapore you will talk with North Korea to include their sampling?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We have to have a situation where - when we do a site visit - it is not sightseeing; it's a real site visit. And there are certain elements of the site visit that need to be agreed ahead of time, so that there will be no confusion when we actually do the site visit. And that’s what we’re aiming at. We've had a lot of talks with our partners on this. We've had a lot of very technical talks on this. And it's our hope that at the Six-Party meeting we’ll be able to do that.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about the energy assistance?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We have to have some discussions. That is why it’s very valuable to have the South Koreans here, and I'll be meeting with them bilaterally here as well as trilaterally.

But, as you recall, there's a total of one million tons of heavy fuel oil. This is a very thick type of fuel oil that’s only used in heating plants and a few factories. It cannot be used in transportation, for example. It cannot be made into diesel or gasoline. So it's only for some very specific purposes. Now we reached an agreement in February of ’07 that the participants in the six parties would share the amount - the one million - with the understanding that Japan would come in as its concerns were met. And the Japanese concerns have not been met, so we don’t have Japan in the division of the heavy fuel oil. But the addendum in February ‘07 also referred to our welcoming contributions from the international community. And I know that the South Koreans have been very active in trying to get additional contributions. We’ve also - following their lead - been active as well. We are close, but we need some more shipments. We need some more pledges. So we're going to be talking about that with the South Koreans.

QUESTION: After the regime change --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Regime change? I'm sorry, I don't understand the question --

QUESTION: The regime change -- the new cabinet ministers have been decided --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, in the U.S. We don't call that “regime change.” We have elections every four years, and so we have a new administration. The President-elect has named some cabinet members - many of whom have very familiar names, so it should be no surprise here in Japan. And one thing that I think will stay the same is our very close relationship with Japan. When you talked about regime change, I thought you were talking about John Bolton or something.

QUESTION: When are you meeting the South Koreans tomorrow?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think it's early tomorrow because we have a trilateral meeting tomorrow in the morning, so it must be at breakfast.

QUESTION: Is there a possibility that the sampling section will be in another document and not in the main protocol?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I really don't want to get into how many documents we’re talking about. Our point is that we need to get to the verification phase which is a phase which takes place after we have completed disabling. Much of it will have to take place after we complete disabling because you can’t be verifying a reactor until the reactor is completely de-fueled. And our concern is that we want to get to that phase and not have any surprises. We don't want a situation where our scientists arrive, and they want to do some scientific procedures, and then there's a big disagreement on what scientific procedures they are allowed to do. So that means that - in order to avoid those disagreements and misunderstandings - we want to get everything as clear as possible in the Six-Party head of delegation meeting. Now whether that takes one document, two documents, three documents, I don’t know. The important point is to make it clear, so that there are no misunderstandings.

Released on December 2, 2008

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