Morning Walkthrough on Six-Party TalksChristopher Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
St. Regis Hotel
December 19, 2006
QUESTION: …do you expect any progress or do you think that they’re going to change their…
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t want to describe their opening line at the plenary. I must say plenary sessions where you sit there with eighty-five people and six delegations are never an opportunity move the process forward and to be sure I think the North Koreans seize that opportunity not to move the process forward. I think today is a much more important day of how these things are going to go. We need progress on the basis of our September 2005 agreement. We need to get going on implementing that and I hope we can do some of that this week. It’s not an easy week to make progress but we’re certainly prepared to do that. We’ve spent six weeks working on what sorts of things we’d like to move forward. I’ve made five trips here. Frankly I’ve done a lot of work here in Beijing but I also did a lot of work in Washington to get our position in the shape that it is. Let’s see if the North Koreans have done any work.
QUESTION: Have you heard definitively that you’ll meet with the DPRK?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh I think today we’ll have a lot of bilateral talks; I’m going to start with a meeting of the Chinese hosts. I’m sure we’ll meet with the other delegations but I can’t confirm to you anything but I’d be happy to tell you tonight who I met with.
QUESTION: Have you set a time for BDA talks?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We have our BDA group and I believe they’re going to meet this morning, I think maybe the embassy could tell you what time they’re going to meet. My understanding is the North Korean group is coming be Air Korea today, maybe you could check with the Air Korea travel agent on when that flights arriving.
QUESTION: Do you know if that talks also going to be at the Diaoyutai?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think it’s a separate location but I think it’s at the Diaoyutai. It’s either a separate villa or a separate room, there are number of things going on. I haven’t really been directly involved in it because it is for us a separate mechanism. It’s one that the North Koreans asked us to set up and they wanted it to get going when we were prepared to get going with the Six Party Talks so we had our group here Sunday night as requested and they had a day I guess to get over jetlag, which is very considerate of the North Koreans, but let’s hope they can get to work today.
QUESTION: So you don’t have any schedule for the bilateral with the DPRK?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I have a schedule, and this is pretty typical for the Six Party Talks, I have a schedule for the first bilateral, I think I’m meeting with the Chinese at nine o’clock. I think there’s going to be, as I understand it, a head of delegation meeting which is different from a plenary, in the plenary everyone has all their delegations there. The head of delegation is soon after our bilateral with the Chinese. And then we’ll have a series of bilateral meetings.
QUESTION: You said last night that you want to speak with Chinese before speaking to the North Koreans. Why speak to the Chinese first?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’ll be doing that. They’re the host and I want to talk to them about what we heard during the plenary, and compare notes about the plenary. The plenary session represented opening positions, so I want to hear their view on the opening positions.
QUESTION: Will you be explaining to them what you want to say to the North Koreans bilaterally?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You mean will I preview for the Chinese what I intend to say to the North Koreans? I probably will do some of that. I won’t be taking instructions if that’s what you mean. I’ll be previewing what I plan to say.
QUESTION: …that any progress was made?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think I would be hard pressed to tell you any progress was made. The meeting got under way, which is good because we haven’t had it for 13 months, so I guess in that sense there was progress. Certainly in terms of implementing the Jjoint Statement I didn’t feel I could see too much progress from yesterday. I want to emphasize that we’ll know better today, which is when the Six Party Talks really get down to work.
QUESTION: What would be considered progress in the most realistic sense this week?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’ll tell you at the end of the week what it is, but we have some specific ideas. I’ve told you many, many times I do not want to get into those specific ideas, because I don’t want you to measure what’s at the end of the week versus what I told you today. But we’ll know progress when we see it.
QUESTION: Do you have a good feeling so far or… ?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I don’t know. I think – certainly there was nothing I heard in the plenary to fill me up with a sense of holiday spirit, but let’s see how we do today, and I’ll get a better sense of it.
QUESTION: Do you have –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You know, I – we would like a deal, but we don’t want to have a deal any more than anyone else should want to have a deal. So, if we don’t get a deal from this , we don’t, but what I can tell you is, it won’t be because we didn’t try, we didn’t work hard, we didn’t travel as much as possible, we didn’t organize – we did all of those things. I feel the U.S. delegation has worked as hard as any delegation, so we’ll see. We’ll see if the North Koreans want to do something.
QUESTION: You said this was a fork in the road, and now you’re saying if we don’t get a deal we don’t. Does that mean this is the last chance to get a deal?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I don’t like to use terms like last chance. I do, though, believe that with the process not having done anything in thirteen months, those of us who believe in it need to begin to show some results. So, I think if the other delegations -- namely the North Korean delegation – believes in this process, they should come to it in the mood of trying to reach a deal on beginning the implementation of the Joint Statement. So we’ll have to see what they are interested in. We’ve made very clear we are not going to live with their nuclear weapons. No country is going to accept that North Korea should have nuclear weapons. North Korea needs schools, health stations, roads, airports – they need a lot of things. They need food. They need electricity. They don’t need nuclear weapons. And so unfortunately they don’t have any of those other things but they seem to be developing nuclear weapons, and they’ve got to get out of that.
QUESTION: To this point have you heard from the North Koreans what they need in realistic terms to move this round forward?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: In realistic terms, I haven’t heard it yet. But again, it’s the first round. It’s the first day of this, so let’s see what happens today on the second day.
QUESTION: Do you expect to be home for Christmas?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we will certainly have a pretty good idea in the next day or two whether this is a session where we can really make some progress. I think everyone in our delegation who’s worked so hard to get here really would like to see some progress. But it’s not going to just depend on us. It’s not going to just depend on the Chinese hosts, who have also worked very hard. It’s going to depend on the North Koreans as well. So, let me get to work here.
QUESTION: Mr. Hill, just one question. Do you know who’s going to be Daniel Glaser’s counterpart in the BDA [inaudible]?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We saw some names, and…
QUESTION: [inaudible], maybe? Can you confirm?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We saw some names, maybe, but I am not the North Korean government spokesman. You have to ask them. They should be able to do this for you. Unless it’s a secret, but they should be able to tell you who the name of their delegation is. Or check the Air Koryo manifest.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: OK. That’s my best advice. Alright.
QUESTION: Could you sketch in what your schedule is or is [inaudible]?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m going to go out to the Diaoyutai, and I’m going to start with a nine o’clock meeting with the Chinese. I think there’s a head of delegations following that, and then we kept it open for bilaterals. So, we’re not going with a fixed schedule. OK?
QUESTION: Do you plan to spend lunchtime over there at Diaoyutai, or?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, I do. I do. But I’ll be working, even in lunchtime. So [laughter]. OK?
QUESTION: Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: So, see you all later. I can talk to you later this afternoon when we’re back. OK?
QUESTION: Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Alright. Bye bye.
Released on December 19, 2006