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US will review plans regarding North Korea

US will review plans regarding North Korea

Thu, 8 Mar 2001 21:45:15 -0500

Powell Says Bush Administration Supports "Agreed Framework" with

North Korea (Three senators question apparent disparity reported in press) (1,450) By Susan Ellis Washington File Staff Writer

Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee March 8 that the United States will review its plans regarding engagement with North Korea.

The subject came up during a hearing on foreign policy and the president's proposed budget when three senators (Senators Joseph Biden (Democrat of Maryland.), Robert Torricelli (Democrat of New Jersey), and John Kerry (Democrat of Massachusetts) asked Powell to clarify the State Department's position on the Framework Agreement between the United States and North Korea worked out during the Clinton administration in 1994. (Under the agreement, North Korea agreed to terminate its nuclear program. The agreement was designed to bring the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea -- a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- into full treaty compliance. The Framework Agreement also compensates North Korea for lost energy production through an international consortium).

Kerry said he was puzzled by President Bush's apparent decision, reported by the press during his meeting with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung March 7, "not to pick up where the Clinton administration left off" in negotiating with the North Koreans. "Earlier you had said we would pick up," Kerry said. "What changed in those two days?"

"I think the important message that came out of yesterday's meeting," Powell responded, "is that President Bush appreciated what President Kim Dae Jung has done with respect to opening that window, as it is often referred to (in meeting with his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Il in June, 2000), and supports him and supports the additional things he's going to be doing this year. . . while at the same time, we'll review what it is we plan to do with respect to our engagement with North Korea, when we decide it is the appropriate time to re-engage."

Kerry continued, saying "Given the tensions with respect to China and the questions on the entire Peninsula, the messages we send are awfully important in terms of whether we're sort of open to engagement. . . . I have a sense that we may be sending messages that are subject to misinterpretation. Why is it that you would not send a signal to North Korea that the direction they've been moving in is in fact welcomed and that you welcome the concept of a dialogue?"

Powell responded, saying that there is "less difference there than meets the eye." In replacing anew administration, he said, there are things "left on the table. What was left on the table from North Korea was a set of ideas with respect to reducing their missile production, their proliferation of this kind of system. . And Dr. Rice (National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice) and I were briefed extensively by the outgoing administration during the transition period.

"What was missing in what had been done was how one would put in place any kind of monitoring or verification regime. And the North Koreans had not engaged on that in any serious way in the period of the Clinton administration." The elements are still there and have not been dismissed or rejected, he said.

Asked directly by Kerry "whether or not this administration continues to support the 1994 Agreed Framework," Powell said. "We are monitoring the Agreed Framework, and we've continued to support the 1994 Agreed framework."

In response to other questions, Powell said:

-- the State Department would continue to play a lead role in climate issues, including global warming, adding that there will be "interagency working groups that come together to determine our position," and these "might well be chaired by the NSC (National Security Council) because of the disparate Cabinet responsibilities. It really is such a complex issue that it goes well beyond the State Department - EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Treasury, Commerce -- a lot of others in the administration want to play a role in establishing a new policy."

-- It is not yet clear whether a special Northern Ireland envoy, such as the role played by former Senator George Mitchell, will be appointed, but the State Department will identify someone in the department to take on "as a primary additional duty" serving in a communication role, Powell said. However, he added, appointing such an envoy will be taken under advisement "if the situation moves in a way that suggests it takes that kind of high-level special envoy involvement."

On March 7, Powell faced questions covering the full range of U.S. involvement on the world stage from 26 Republican and 23 Democratic members of the House International Relations Committee.

Representative Edward Royce, (Republican of California), chairman of the Africa subcommittee, said "There is no doubt that U.S. policy can positively alter the course of events on the (African) continent and it is in our interest to do so." He said he fully supports Powell's comments during his confirmation hearing, calling the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act "one of the most important measures that Congress considered last year."

Calling it bipartisan legislation that is "critical to bringing Africa into the world economy," Royce called on Powell's support in meeting two challenges which lie ahead: " implementing the legislation in a way that maximizes its benefits -- avoiding the bureaucratic blocking that threatens the flow of goods between the U.S. and Africa -- and holding the U.S.-Africa economic forum that the legislation establishes."

He also urged expanding the legislation, ideally by eliminating the caps that were imposed on duty-free African textile imports. "The Africa trade bill is paying real dividends, but we need to do more and it's time for us as a nation to follow our enlightened self-interest when it comes to trade with Africa. The bill did expand our exports in Africa considerably." He also expressed interest in having the United States engage more fully in assistance to India.

Powell recalled his and Royce's days in Nigeria supervising the recent presidential election there saying: "I think we can be proud now of the start that President Obasanjo has made in putting his country back on the right path. "

He said that a number of African countries have "gone through the first hurdle to get ready for the first benefits of the act and we are now working on this forum that is required by the act."

He said he would get back to the Congress on the administration's position on caps "since it would affect departments other than the State Department."

Cynthia McKinney (Democrat of Georgia) spoke of great injustices done to Afro-Latinos in Latin America -- especially in Colombia "where they comprise 70 percent of the poor. " She called for representation in multilateral organizations such as the World Bank by Afro-Latinos, saying that "there are few development projects designed to assist them."

"I wish I could say, yes, I'm going to make it all better tomorrow. I can't, but I will be sensitive to the plight of Afro-Latinos as I go about my business in the hemisphere," Powell said.

Asked by Representative Peter King (Republican of New York) to prioritize the nine countries awaiting membership in NATO, Powell declined to do so but said, "One of the challenges that NATO is going to have over this spring and summer is to come to some judgment within the alliance as to the standards we want those nine countries to meet before we consider admitting them into NATO. As you know, with three of those countries in particular, there is a neat set of sensitivities: the Baltic states and our relationship with Russia."

Russia will not be given a veto as to their admittance, he said, adding that a decision on their accession will be made at the NATO Summit in the Fall of 2002 in Prague. "The basis upon membership will ultimately rest on: have they met the standards, can they contribute to the alliance, are we able to defend them under the provisions of the alliance, and do they meet especially the standards of democracy and economic reform and stability.

"And so, you can be sure this will be a high priority for us."

He acknowledged differences in opinion among NATO members, ranging from admitting all nine at once to admitting none at this time. All these things will be discussed at the upcoming NATO meeting this spring, he said.


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