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Joint Press Availability With Director General Akitaka Saiki

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Akitaka Saiki, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tokyo, Japan
December 2, 2008

[Note: Director General Saiki spoke in Japanese. His comments are not included except in reference to Assistant Secretary Hill’s remarks.]

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, first of all, let me just say that it’s a great pleasure to be back here in Tokyo and to have the opportunity to consult again with my friend and colleague Aki and his team, as we get ready for what could be a very important Six-Party meeting in Beijing next week. Obviously, there are some really tough issues that we’re going to have to take up in Beijing. And as we consider those difficult issues - that is verification and things like that - we want to make sure that the U.S. and Japan are very close together. And indeed based on these consultations, based on the consultations we had last week in Washington, based on the consultations we had in Lima, Peru, I think the U.S. and Japan are working very, very closely. And I think we have a very, very strong understanding of what needs to be accomplished.

Of course tomorrow we’ll also be joined by our South Korean colleague Kim Sook. And I think this really helps prepare us and really helps ensure a better outcome for the Six-Party Talks next week. So after these bilateral and trilateral meetings tomorrow, I’ll have the opportunity to go to Singapore as part of a bilateral trip to Singapore. But I’ll also see my DPRK colleague there. And after that, we will end up in Beijing and maybe even have another trilateral meeting. I am very, very pleased - very pleased indeed - that the U.S. and ROK and Japan are working very closely together on these issues. I think our opinions are very much in sync. And so I cannot promise that everything will be successful. But what I can promise is that the U.S. and Japan will work very closely together to do all we can to try to make it a success.

QUESTION: With regard to the Six-Party meeting on December 8, I think the focus is going to be on whether you are going to put into writing the U.S.-DPRK agreement on verification. What did you discuss about this? Additionally, North Korea is refusing to allow sampling. What did you talk about with regard to putting this in writing as well?

DIRECTOR GENERAL SAIKI: We are still in the middle of negotiations, so certainly there is not much additional that I can share with you. But as I’ve mentioned, if they say things that would reopen the issue of verification and the framework - as well as the method of verification - this would need to be thoroughly discussed and directions be established among the six parties concerned. The verification method and the subject of verification - that is the nuclear facilities as well as the nuclear plants that would be subject to verification - would have to be absolutely clear, so that there is no room for misunderstanding. That kind of clear, solid understanding and agreement must be put in writing, so that there is no room for misunderstanding. As far as this point is concerned, as Assistant Secretary Hill indicated, Japan and the United States - and tomorrow together with Korea - we will have in-depth discussions on these issues. And based on the outcome of that trilateral discussion, I believe that the United States will be discussing these matters with North Korea in Singapore. In Beijing the Six-Party Talks will be held, and certainly we expect some hardships that we will be facing during the Six-Party Talks. But to the extent possible, we would like to establish a clear framework, and then start the verification process, which would be an extremely important roadmap for a step toward complete denuclearization of North Korea’s nuclear facilities. And to that end, we would like to cooperate with the United States.

QUESTION: Did you discuss anything about the collection of samples?

DIRECTOR GENERAL SAIKI: We did. In performing verification, sampling is an extremely important factor or element. And I think there is no doubt about that. And as far as that is concerned - within the framework of the Six-Party Talks - hopefully the North Korean representatives would come to an agreement on the method of verification as well as the method of sampling.

QUESTION: If you have anything to add, especially regarding sampling?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I agree with all those points. Obviously the details of verification do need to be worked out in the six parties. And we’re looking forward to an in-depth discussion of that at the meeting in Beijing.

QUESTION: I’d like to ask both of you a question. Based on what you’ve said here today, would it be safe to say that you agreed on the need to put sampling and verification methods into writing?

DIRECTOR GENERAL SAIKI: As far as the Six-Party Talks are concerned, the framework of verification needs to have a solid substance in terms of verification - including the method of verification and confirmation based on documentation of that. And codifying that is very important. And that’s not only an understanding of Japan and the United States, but also of South Korea. And as far as the agreement that we hope to achieve in terms of (inaudible) to start to arrive at an agreement and have in-depth discussions in Beijing next week. Of course we cannot share with you the specifics or details. But an agreement among the six parties in the future should be in a way that there is absolutely no room for misunderstanding. So that’s the direction that we are going to be striving toward.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t have much to add to that. I agree with all of that. The important point to understand is that when we get to verification, we don’t want misunderstandings. And the way to clear up misunderstandings is to have things worked out in advance, and that’s what the protocol is all about.

Released on December 2, 2008

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