Evening Walkthrough in ChinaChristopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
China World Hotel
December 7, 2008
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Good to see you. Hi. Welcome back to Beijing, good to see you all. We had a good trilateral meeting earlier this evening, then I had dinner with my Russian counterpart, Ambassador Borodavkin. In the trilateral meeting, I briefed on my meeting with the DPRK representative in Singapore. There are really no surprises here because I had done that by telephone at the end of last week. We talked about how we are going to try to strategize in the coming couple of days and what we hope to get out of this Six-Party meeting. And then tonight I did a little of the same with my Russian counterpart. And I think tomorrow morning I will meet with the Chinese hosts and then we hope to get going tomorrow afternoon. We’ll see how we do.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think to say there was an ‘achievement’ in Singapore is to overstate the case, but certainly what I talked about in Singapore was consistent with what we talked about in Tokyo, and I briefed both of them today.
QUESTION: What about the Russians, have they endorsed you on the plan to move forward?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, frankly, Russia is a country that has a great deal of experience on these issues of disarmament, and particular issues of verification, so they have a lot of experience on this. We always expected that this is the phase where Russia will be a more active participant. Certainly in talking with them tonight, they had a lot of views, and I think they are constructive views. They look forward to conveying those to the North Koreans, and I would say we had a very good discussion with the Russians.
QUESTION: Did you talk about the North Koreans denouncing Japan’s participation in the Six-Party Talks with Saiki-san?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We talked a little about that - but not so much tonight with the Russians, but earlier with Saiki-san and in our trilateral meeting. I don’t think it is for North Korea to be including or excluding anyone in the Six-Party Talks. They need to deal with us all so, frankly speaking, it does not really change anything for us.
QUESTION: Are you going to do anything about it? Have you talked to the North Koreans?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t plan to see the North Koreans. Certainly when I saw them in Singapore, I made it very clear that I thought it was very important for them to meet with the Japanese. So if the North Koreans are not doing that, it runs directly counter to certainly my advice at the end of last week. Maybe at some point I would like to convey that.
QUESTION: Ambassador (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I can’t hear you. You’re either too short or – oh, there you are (laughter).
QUESTION: What kind of consensus did you make in the trilateral talks as the minimum goal for this round of Six-Party Talks?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We talked about some of the same things we talked about in Tokyo, which is the need to get a verification protocol - which needs to involve a clear roadmap of what we want to do to complete verification - and there is a long-standing track record of how this is done internationally. So I think we were basically trying to talk to each other and figure out how to achieve this objective. There was a pretty unanimous view that we need to proceed with this. Certainly when I talked to the Russians later this evening, there was a similar view.
QUESTION: Can you give an example of these international standards?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I know there’s been a great deal of interest in sampling. I would like to say that sampling is one of the number of verification methods. There are certainly other issues. These are not new to anybody who has dealt with verification. We went through with all of these, and I think it was pretty much agreed that these are things that one does in these cases. It’s not unusual, it’s not anything new, and it’s not anything the North Koreans should be objecting to.
QUESTION: Is there any sign of gaining a complete agreement on a written protocol?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Obviously, we had some written understandings in Pyongyang, but we need additional written understandings. We had some oral understandings, and our view is if one is willing to say something and to give one’s word on something, one should be willing to write it down as well. Our objective is to try to have this all written down so that when we get to this very crucial phase of disablement and verification, there won’t be any misunderstandings.
QUESTION: Will this be the last Six-Party round of this administration?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Which administration?
QUESTION: Sorry, the Bush Administration.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The Bush Administration, I don’t know. I don’t know. Obviously, we’re at a very important phase. We’ve got a lot to do at this round. We’re looking at the issue of getting fuel deliveries. The South Koreans have done a lot of work on that. We’ve tried to assist them on that. We’re looking at how to get the remaining disablement activities done. And most importantly, we’re looking at trying to get this verification stuff done, so it’s a very, very busy time. I hope we can get through this and really register some progress.
AIDE: I think we have time for one last question.
QUESTION: Do you think tomorrow you are going into deeper discussions and actual negotiation, tomorrow?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, tomorrow morning I’ll be seeing the Chinese, and it’s my first opportunity to see them. I’ll certainly give them my view of how we’re going to try to proceed. Then we’ll see how far we get in the afternoon. My understanding is that they are going to call the meeting around the middle of the afternoon. You know, traditionally, you don’t get a lot of progress on the first day, so probably we won’t until the day after when we’ll really get an idea of whether we’re going to get something done here or not.
QUESTION: Do you have scheduling ideas for tomorrow?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Why don’t you check with the Embassy, but I think I have the Chinese at nine o’clock, and that for us is the key event. You’ll want to check with the Embassy on the rest of the day. I think it’s all at the Diaoyutai. Alright, see you later.