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Departure Walkthrough From the Six-Party Talks

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Beijing International Airport
Beijing, China
December 11, 2008

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think I'm just going to make my flight.

QUESTION: Is the meeting finished?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: They are just wrapping up, I think, what will be called a "chairman's statement." As you know, we have some very ambitious plans for this round. Unfortunately, we were not able to complete some things we wanted to do. We worked very hard on verification, but ultimately were not able to get an agreed verification protocol.

We certainly reviewed a lot of the ideas and a lot of the specifics of verification but were not able to agree on a verification text. As you know, we had circulated a text from Pyongyang along with some other points that needed to be included so that we would have an overall verification protocol. What we did in Pyongyang, of course, was to put together some essential elements of verification that comprised DPRK cooperation toward the final goal of a verification protocol. And we don't have that yet, so we're going to keep working on that.

We also had good discussions about completing the disablement and second phase activities - disablement and fuel oil. Again, I think we look forward to completing that as we complete a verification protocol. Finally, I think we received a very well-written, well-done paper by the Russian delegation on Northeast Asia peace and security and had a good discussion about that.

Right now, we're just trying to wrap up a chairman's statement. I left in order to get to my flight, which leaves shortly, so that I can report back to Washington. We have Ambassador Sung Kim there and Paul Haenle from the NSC working on it. I attended the first session, but I couldn't stay for the second session. I think the second session just started.

So we'll keep working on this and try to get this thing done.

QUESTION: What's going to be the next movement? Are we going to have the next heads of delegation - an additional one?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We'll have to see what the Chinese want to do. Obviously, we did a lot of work and tried to get a protocol done. We certainly had a lot of discussions, a lot of consultations. I would say there was a lot of agreement among, really, the majority of the delegations there. Ultimately, the DPRK was not ready, really, to reach a verification protocol with all the standards that are required. I would like to mention that a number of us - especially the U.S. and the Russian delegations - have a lot of familiarity with what these things look like and what the standards should be. So we tried to acquaint the DPRK with those standards and ultimately couldn't get it done during this round.

QUESTION: Are you going to have a next round by the end of this Administration?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We have to see. We've got to get through some details of this. And we'll obviously be in close contact in the days ahead to try to deal with that.

QUESTION: So there is no specific date for the next round?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We did not try to set a date. I'm sure we could have, but we did not try to set one. I think the issue is we need to overcome some of the differences that stand between us and a finished protocol.

QUESTION: Do you have a meeting with the North Koreans today?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I did not have a meeting with North Koreans today, no, I did not. We had Six-Party meetings. We also met with [Chinese Foreign] Minister Yang Jiechi. I met with the Chinese chair on a number of occasions. And of course I met informally in the corridors quite frequently with my Japanese, Russian, and ROK counterparts.

We've had a lot of cooperation and - I think - a lot of multilateral cooperation with those delegations.

QUESTION: To get the verification protocol done, what's going to be your next move? Are you going to be continuing bilats?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I really don't see this so much as a bilateral activity. I think this is one where this is going to involve multilateral [meetings]. As you'll recall, there has always been envisioned a role for the IAEA as well. So I think we have to work with our various partners. I know the Russians have some strong views on the need to preserve the quality of the verification. I think we all have a sense that verification really needs to meet international standards and make sure we have a situation where what we do here does not negatively affect the next such situation in the world. On the contrary, we want to make sure that what we do here actually enhances the ability to have a similar type of protocol in a different part of the world. We want to reinforce the overall international system.

Again, we're going to have to be in close contact with each other. I don't think the issue is talking bilaterally and that sort of thing. I think the issue is seeing if we can agree on a text and the means to go forward so that when we have verification, everyone understands what the requirements are.

AIDE: You've got a plane to catch.

QUESTION: Do you see the North Koreans continuing to talk --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh sure, there is no problem talking. There is no problem talking.

QUESTION: Do you see any change in the North Koreans' attitude since yesterday?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I'm sorry? Since yesterday? I can't say anything since yesterday. We certainly discussed a lot of details of verification and what it really means and why we need these things.

We're all concerned with trying to finish the second phase - that is getting the disablement done, getting the fuel oil done, but also getting the verification done. We're trying to move together on a number of fronts. It's not always easy. It was ambitious, but we'll keep working at it.

QUESTION: You and the South Koreans are the ones to provide fuel assistance. Do you think you can go ahead with that without verification?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: There is a great interest from other countries in participating. We're very much pleased that there is so much interest in trying to make sure the Six-Party process concludes satisfactorily. So I'm sure that - as we move ahead on fuel oil and verification and disablement - that we will have the necessary participation from other countries. There was certainly a feeling around the room that we should do that.

AIDE: You've got a plane to catch.

QUESTION: Do you have any information on the agreement on the energy assistance?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We're trying to get an agreement on several different things. We've obviously made progress on all of them, but we have to keep working at it.

Okay, I've got to go catch a plane. See you later.

QUESTION: You said you've made some progress today on verification?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Look, I'll be able to measure progress when we finish the job. And I'll come back and tell you which days we made progress. Right now, we don't have a protocol yet. Okay?

Released on December 11, 2008

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