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Evening Walkthrough in Singapore

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
St. Regis Hotel
Singapore
December 5, 2008

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Okay. We just finished having our consultations, and I’ll be going to Seoul tomorrow morning and then on to Beijing on Sunday. We had an in-depth discussion. We talked a lot about the verification issues today, whereas yesterday, I’d say, we talked more of the issues of the fuel oil and things like that. So today was focused on verification and what we need to make sure that there are no misunderstandings as we go forward. So it was a good exchange of views. And we’ll see how we do when we sit down to negotiate something at the Six-Party Talks.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yeah. I think we’re ready to go on to the heads of delegation. I can’t say that we’ve agreed on anything at this point. But we certainly had a good exchange of views, on primarily the issue of the level of specificity, and what verification is going to look like. We talked a lot about the timing of things. So it was a good discussion. And that together with the trilateral we had in Tokyo, and I’m looking forward to meeting Ambassador Borodavkin in Beijing -- so I think we’ll be ready for the Six-Party meeting. And let’s hope we can get this verification protocol done then, and then move on from there.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: They did reaffirm what they agreed to in Pyongyang. The issue is how to capture things in writing, and so that’s what we’ve all got to work on. But I want to emphasize this is not a bilateral issue; it’s an issue involving all the six parties. That’s why we spent a lot of time in Tokyo on it. That’s why I’ll be meeting with the Russian representative. So we’ll see how we do at the Six-Party meeting.

QUESTION: Do you think on verification the only issue is how to put it on the paper?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yeah, basically.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, scientific procedures they’ve agreed to, and we have an understanding from them on what it means. The question is how much they’re willing to put on paper in advance.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: That’s still to be worked out. We weren’t negotiating here because negotiation is for the six parties. This was a consultation. And I’ll certainly be reporting in depth on the conversations here that we’ve had. I’ll be reporting to my other Six-Party partners. But the actual negotiation will be done in Beijing on Monday.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yeah, I’ve got a clear idea, but we don’t have agreement on it. But again, we weren’t negotiating here; that will be done in Beijing.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, look, I think having had the meetings in Tokyo, I think we have a real clear understanding of what needs to be done. I certainly conveyed that to the DPRK. And whether we actually get the things down in writing that we need, we’ll know when we get through the heads of delegation meeting in Beijing.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: How hard is it going to be?

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, I’ve never had a Six-Party meeting that wasn’t hard. It’s always hard. It’s always a lot of work, a lot of tension, a lot of aspirin. So we’ll try to get through it.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think it’s -- look, we’re obviously in the right direction. We are making progress. We’re getting the disablement completed. I think the South Koreans have worked very hard on the fuel oil issues, and so things are moving ahead. But yes, it will be hard. And it will continue to be hard every inch of the way.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: About what?

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yeah. We had a little preliminary discussion, but we didn’t go very far. And I didn’t want to really get to an impasse on that because, again, we’re not here to negotiate; we’re here to consult. And I don’t want to be getting out ahead of my partners in Tokyo and Seoul and Moscow.

QUESTION: Why they didn’t want to meet (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I don’t know. I didn’t even ask. I thought we were going to meet in the late morning, as we did yesterday. But then they said they were waiting for instructions for Pyongyang, so I came back to the hotel. I tried to sneak into the hotel, so you all wouldn’t see me (laughter), because I didn’t want to raise a lot of excitement, but --

QUESTION: Did you get a good sense of (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yeah, I mean that’s obviously going to be a challenge. I mean, we all understand what is meant by the term. The issue is putting it down because, you know, we’re in a situation where a lot of people are aware of the term sampling. And if there’s sampling, there will be sense that - if sampling is put on paper - then the DPRK might feel it’s losing there. If it’s not on paper, we’ll be losing. So we get to a, kind of, tough patch in terms of how to express these things where everybody feels they’re winning.

QUESTION: But are you encouraged by today’s meeting?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, you know, I’m never encouraged. I’m never discouraged. I’m just trying to do my job.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: That sounds like you’re writing an article. Again, we were not here to negotiate. I can just tell you that I’m sure that the negotiations - when we do sit down and negotiate in Beijing - I’m sure, the negotiations will be as usual; they will be difficult.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Another meeting with the North Koreans? I don’t think so. I think we’ve had plenty of time here.

QUESTION: How are you going to report (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: How am I going to report? Well, I’m going to get on the phone tonight, and probably I’ll try to reach Mr. Saiki tonight and Kim Sook and I’ll just tell them what happened. It will be basically what I told you, so don’t worry.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No. Look, we have a very clear understanding of what we need. We need to define certain terms that we’ve agreed on. And we need to have the definitions clear, so that there is no misunderstanding as we go forward. And so that will be the issue - how much can we put down in writing and that sort of thing. All right?

QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m leaving tomorrow. I was thinking of leaving tonight, but I want to go out and get some noodles (laughter). So I think I’ll leave tomorrow morning. All right? Anyway, good to see you all.




Released on December 5, 2008

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