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Albright And North Korean Minister's Press Comment

ASEAN: Albright And North Korean Ministerial Press Stakeout

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright Press Stakeout Following Bilateral Meeting With DPRK Foreign Minister Paek Bangkok, Thailand, July 28, 2000 As released by the Office of the Spokesman U.S. Department of State

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. As you know I have just met with Foreign Minister Paek of the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea. This was the first bilateral meeting at the ministerial level ever held between our two countries. Its purpose was to enable the Foreign Minister and I to get acquainted, to reaffirm our interest in more normal ties, and to touch briefly on the core issues we've been discussing at other levels for some time. I told the Foreign Minister that the United States welcomes the DPRK's decision to participate in the ASEAN Regional Forum because his country has the potential to contribute in important ways to a more stable Asia Pacific. I said we were encouraged by his government's recent efforts to expand diplomatic contacts with other nations and by its moratorium on long range missile launches and I was direct in stating American concerns about all aspects of the missile threat, nuclear weapons related activities and the importance of achieving the goals of the Agreed Framework. I also said that the United States fully supports the intensified inter-Korean dialogue now under way. We understand that change can only come over time, but we believe the process of mutual engagement can do much to address the needs and aspirations of all Koreans.

My meeting today with Foreign Minister Paek constitutes a substantively modest but symbolically historic step away from the sterility and hostility of the past and towards a more direct and promising approach to resolving differences and establishing common ground. I remain realistic in expectations and firmly committed to coordination with our allies. I'm also somewhat more hopeful than before about the prospects for long-term stability on the Korean peninsula and throughout the region.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, were you able to glean from the Foreign Minister any more details of this supposed offer to halt the missile program in exchange for space technology?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No. I was not. No.

QUESTION: You did not discuss that at all?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We discussed it but I was not able to glean.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. government consider North Korea the enemy?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I made very clear that it was very important to get past the 50 years of hostility and that we needed to look towards the future.

QUESTION: How do we do that?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we've been taking some modest steps and they need to meet our concerns and this meeting is I think a step in that direction. We need to make sure that the missile talks continue, that the four party talks continue and that we are in fact able to move this process forward. I frankly--well if anybody had told me that I would be shaking hands with the Foreign Minister of the DPRK today I would have been very surprised and so I look forward to this relationship moving forward on a considered and careful step-by-step basis.

QUESTION: Is North Korea considering sending a delegation to the U.S.?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The subject came up but it's under discussion and it will continue to be for a while.

QUESTION: What's the next step after this?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think we will have to see. We spoke about seeing each other at the General Assembly. I must say the Foreign Minister was very nice. He said he had passed me last year at the General Assembly. We had not spoken to each other. He did tell me however that I looked younger this year.

(laughter)

Thank you.

[End of Document]


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