Morning Walkthrough on Six-Party TalksChristopher Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
St. Regis Hotel
December 20, 2006
QUESTION: Good morning, how are you?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: About the same as when I went to bed. We’ve had some phone calls and some discussion, and we’ll go out and begin the process again today. These things do take some time, but at this point I don’t want to say I’m pessimistic or optimistic. I really at this point just don’t know where we’re going to end up, or when we’re going to end up. I know that’s the second question.
QUESTION: How were your discussions yesterday?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: As I mentioned last night, I thought they were pretty businesslike, actually. I think we had some healthy exchanges of views, and we tried to explore each other’s thinking to understand which issues are important and why they’re important. It was a useful meeting.
QUESTION: Ambassador Hill, very little progress has been made up to today and looking at the schedule…
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: How do you know it’s very little progress?
QUESTION: Because you’ve said it, basically. But anyway, looking at the schedule would you say today is a critical day to know whether positive results are going to be achieved or not?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m not going to write your lead. You’ll have to come up with on your own. Look, it’s Wednesday, it’s in the middle of the week that we set for this negotiation. Clearly we have to be on to very substantive discussions today. We had a good discussion about real issues yesterday. Monday was less inspiring in that regard, so I think the trend is positive, but we have to see how we’re going to do today.
QUESTION: The Japanese delegation, in everything they’ve said have been quite critical about the progress so far and they have actually raised the level of the [inaudible]. What are you hoping to accomplish in your meeting with Mr. Sasae?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Certainly I’ve been meeting with Mr. Sasae throughout the process. In fact I even stopped on the way here to meet with him. We had very close consultation with the Japanese government, befitting our status as treaty allies. I think the Japanese, like us, share the desire to make sure the six party process is really working. At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do in the six party process is denuclearize the Korean peninsula, but we’re also aiming, if you look carefully at our September statement, at the normalization of relations with United States. These normalization processes depend on a discussion of ongoing issues, and clearly the Japanese have some issues that need to be addressed. It’s our fervent hope that there can be bilateral meetings between the DPRK and the Japanese addressing their issues.
QUESTION: Are you meeting again with the North Koreans today?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I do expect to do that, yes. Probably later in the morning.
QUESTION: Separately or in bilateral meetings?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: It would be a bilateral meeting. I don’t think we have any plenary scheduled, thank goodness. I think we’ll move on right to bilateral meetings.
QUESTION: You mentioned the possibility of putting together a document. Do you think that possibly could be today?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: If we’re going to get to the end of the week and have something tangible, I think we probably need to be looking at something on paper in the very near future. I’m not going to predict today, but I think we have to think about how some of these ideas might look on paper.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m going to meet Mr. Sasae. Has he come by here yet? So I’m not late, but still I ought to get moving to the Embassy. I can talk to you later on after today but I really don’t have a lot of new news this morning.
QUESTION: Do you have another dinner tonight?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Another dinner? I don’t know, I just live from one hour to the next. I’m not sure if I have another dinner.
QUESTION: Are all the meetings going to be held at Diaoyutai?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: As you know, we have this financial group, and we’ve followed some past practices that have been done many, many times in the past where we do it one day in our embassy and the next day in their embassy. I think that is going on in the DPRK’s Embassy today. All of our meetings are going to be in the Diaoyutai.
QUESTION: Do you get the sense the financial talks are going to continue to tomorrow?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know. I think they had a really considerable exchange of information and views yesterday. I think they’re going to continue that, and I think they’re going to assess where they are at the end of the day today, whether they need an additional day.
QUESTION: Did you talk with Secretary Rice after you had your bilateral talk with the DPRK?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I did have a discussion with Secretary Rice last night, along with some other officials in Washington. That’s our practice, to try to check back.
QUESTION: Was she happy?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m not going to characterize my discussions but I briefed her on what we’re doing. OK, thank you very much.
Released on December 20, 2006