Evening Walkthrough in SingaporeChristopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
December 4, 2008
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You know, all we’re doing is consulting in advance of the Six-Party process. So I really can’t talk about progress in that regard. We’re just consulting on how we see the major issues, as we approach this Six-Party head of delegation meeting.
QUESTION: Have they gave you the clear understanding? Have they assured you (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, we discussed – I don’t want to get into the details of the conversation, but we discussed all aspects of the issues as we expect them to arise in the Six-Party process.
QUESTION: Are you encouraged by it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: It’s hard to get me encouraged any more by anything. (laughter) So let me just say we had a substantive discussion of all the issues that we expect to come up in the Six-Party Talks - the Six-Party head of delegation meeting.
QUESTION: What exactly is the U.S. and its partners position regarding verification? What is it seeking in these Six-Party Talks?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We need a - in the Six-Party Talks, the head of delegation meeting - we need a verification agreement among the six that will enable us to get going on verification, that will enable us to do everything we need to do to verify the completeness and correctness of their declaration. Obviously there are certain elements of that, certain specific elements that are necessary in order to be able to verify the completeness and correctness of the declaration. So we had to go into some specifics, and I would say overall there is an effort on our part and the part of our partners in the process to get more specificity than we currently have. So that’s what we’ve been working on.
QUESTION: Was there any agreement at all or any semblance of coming to an agreement on verification, on the sampling issue?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I don’t want to talk about specifics. And I also don’t want to suggest that we’re doing a negotiation. We’re having a consultation, and the negotiation will take place in Beijing among the six parties.
QUESTION: Ambassador, do you now have - after today’s discussion - do you now have a better picture of what next week’s Six-Party heads of delegation (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yeah, I do.
QUESTION: So you’re now more confident that you can get the agreement?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I mean, I think it’s been very useful (inaudible) how we see the Six-Party process. I must say there was an understanding of the fact of the agenda that we see -- that is heavy fuel oil, disablement, and verification are the agenda items that they see. But how we negotiate some of these items are, you know -- we won’t really know until we have the Six-Party meeting.
QUESTION: Do you think your agenda and the North Korean’s are quite different or --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I would say we agreed on the main elements that we’ll been discussing in the Six-Party process.
QUESTION: You said you’re doing this consultation to avoid any future misunderstandings --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well that refers to -- no I didn’t say that. We’re having these set of consultations in order to make sure everyone understands what we need to get accomplished with the Six-Party process. With regard to verification, which is a key element of the meeting next week, we want to make sure that we have enough specificity in a verification agreement so that as we get on with verification, especially as the disablement phase winds down and we complete disablement and get on with verification so that we don’t have any unpleasant surprises in terms of what people are expecting.
QUESTION: And are you on that path after today’s talks?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh yeah, we had a good discussion about that. In that regard, I think it was also very useful to stop in Tokyo and meet with our -- meet with the ROK and Japanese.
QUESTION: How long will you be in Singapore?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: How long will you be in Singapore?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we’ll be done tomorrow. But I think I’m going to have some additional meetings in Singapore, and then maybe leave Saturday morning.
QUESTION: Okay, so you’ll be finished with the North Koreans tomorrow?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes.
QUESTION: Sorry, I’ve got a question. Given that these are probably the last talks before the Bush administration ends, did you set up any kind of parameters about how the next administration (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I can’t speak for the next administration. We have a transition team at the State Department, but I’m not in a position to speak for the next administration.
QUESTION: Put it another way: if the verification, if talks fail in Beijing, what’s next?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we don’t usually like to talk about talks failing because that usually means that that’s what’s going to happen. So, what we like to do is see if we can make them successful. And then we’ll see what the Obama administration wants to do with it. But I’m not in a position to talk about the future. Okay (coughing), I’m sorry, I’m really not feeling well and I--
QUESTION: Sorry, the Six-Party Talks are not officially announced--
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You say you’re sorry, but I don’t think you really are (laughter). I can tell a sincere sorry, and it’s a very insincere one. (laughter)
QUESTION: I’m sorry, do you have a cold or something?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think it is, I do.
QUESTION: No, no, I was wondering, it’s not officially announced it, are they waiting for the outcome--
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know. We’re expecting to be in Beijing (inaudible). I’m not sure when they will officially announce it. (coughing) Thanks for taking a picture of my coughing. (laughter) Okay?
QUESTION: On the timeline issue, are you basically in agreement with the North Koreans on the timeline issue?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We’re trying to work out how that would - how that will look. Okay? But it’s not a real problem, on the timeline, I don’t think. Okay, look, really, I’m--
QUESTION: What’s going to be the main event tomorrow (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: (coughing) Okay really, I would like to go.