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Christopher Hill Presser Outside MFA Tokyo, Japan

Press Availability Outside Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Christopher R. Hill , Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific

Tokyo, Japan
September 5, 2006


QUESTION: According to the latest news reports, it looks like Kim Jong Il is apparently about to cross the North Korea-China border and is heading for Beijing. We never know what he's up to, but if he . . .

A/S HILL: Well, he doesn't tell me either, so I can't help you on that. But go ahead, I'm sorry.

QUESTION: My question is a little bit hypothetical, but what if he wanted to meet with you? Would you meet with him, or would you rather flatly reject his . . .

Well, I think it is a very hypothetical question, because I don't think he's planning to meet with me, and frankly, I don't know if he's in China. That's your information, not mine. But I do want to stress that the U.S. remains really committed to the six-party process. We would be ready to begin that process any time. Last night, in addition to a number of other subjects, I talked to Director General Sasae on that subject, that both Japan and the U.S. are very interested in the diplomatic track. But we are also interested in really trying to resolve this problem, and to protect both our countries against the possibility of further developments in North Korea's weapons programs. So I have no information on Mr. Kim Jong Il's travels. As you know, I take planes and he takes trains, so I'm not really sure what he's doing. But just to say that the United States remains very committed to finding a diplomatic solution. We are very supportive of the six-party process. We value our partners in the six-party process. We especially value the close relationship we've had with Japan. I would say the work we did together with Japan in July, where we worked very closely on this resolution, I think was very important, not only to the six-party process and to the issue of the DPRK, but also to the entire fabric of the US-Japan relationship, which I think is a stronger relationship as a result of the work we've done -- together -- on the North Korean nuclear issue.

QUESTION: So you wouldn't rule out the possibility of meeting with North Korea and China on a trilateral basis outside the framework of the Six-Party Talks?

A/S HILL: Well again, I really don't want to get into theoretical questions like that, except to say that we are very committed to trying to do all we can to find a solution to this. The problem we've had is that we do not have a negotiator on the other side. We do not have a DPRK that seems to share our goal of a diplomatic approach.

QUESTION: But do you not see this recent North Korean movement, for instance, if this report is correct or supposed to be becoming correct from now onward – do you not see this as a sign of North Korea reaching for international society?

A/S HILL: Well, I think you have to be very careful about asking diplomats about unconfirmed reports, because diplomats don't like to answer hypothetical questions. I really can't answer your question in that regard. What I can say is, the six-party process really provided a very strong platform on which North Korea could build a relationship with the rest of the world. The six-party process, I think, offered a means for the DPRK to engage the international community, and I think we are all disappointed. I know I can speak for the U.S. side, but I think I can also speak for the Japanese side: We're all disappointed that the DPRK has not seemed to want to use that. But in coming to Japan, I thought it was very important that we consult very closely on this process. We really value the relationship we've had with Japan on this, a relationship that I think grew stronger as a result of the events of early July.

QUESTION: So what is your next move? Are you going to wait for the DPRK to come back to the September agreement, or are you going to go . . .

A/S HILL: Well, first of all, I'm going to China in connection with my responsibilities to carry on our day-to-day relationships with China. Of course, while in China, I will be talking to them about their perceptions of where we are with the six-party process. I'll be talking to them about their perceptions of the situation in the DPRK and how they are dealing with the DPRK in light of the July events. But I'm also going to get outside of Beijing and go to some other Chinese cities. I'm going to be going out to western China, to Chengdu. I'll be going down to the south to Guangzhou. I'll be going to one of the coastal cities, Shanghai. I'll be meeting the U.S. consulates there. I'll be meeting business leaders there and local officials and trying to get a better familiarity of the extraordinary dynamism of the Chinese economy today. But with regard to the six-party process, with regard to the DPRK, it is a major issue for us. It's an issue that we're continuing to work very closely with all our parties. As I said, I've been doing that here in Japan, and I look forward to discussions in China. And on my way out back to the U.S., I'll stop in Seoul as well.

QUESTION: Have you talked with Japanese counterparts, and would you be talking with the rest of officials that you are meeting in other countries from now? After September 18, it's going to be one year since the agreement. And would you be considering the possibility having five-party talks without the presence of DPRK?

A/S HILL: Well, first of all, September 18 -- we thought it was a very positive thing that took place a year ago, the first time the DPRK agreed to give up all of their nuclear weapons and nuclear programs. It offered a clear roadmap – a blueprint, really – a very clear statement of what they could get from this. I think it was very much in their interest, and they've chosen to essentially boycott the process. So as we come up on a one-year anniversary, I consider that not a good year, because we had hoped that last year we could have moved ahead and solved this. So yes, we are going to be discussing this matter.

You know, we can look at other formats. As you know, in Kuala Lumpur, we had a very interesting meeting of what we called the 5+5. That is, five members of the six-party process, and five members who are interested in Asian security, especially Northeast Pacific security, but who are not members of the six-party process. But we also invited the DPRK to that meeting. So we can look at other such meetings. We can certainly look at other configurations. We think the time for organized multilateral diplomacy in Asia is now. Especially in Northeast Asia, we feel that more should be done. We compare the development of multilateral diplomacy in Northeast Asia to the developments in Southeast Asia, and I think it's fair to say Southeast Asia is a little ahead. So we'd like to see more of these meetings, and we don't want a situation where the DPRK, while they boycott it for themselves, we don't want them to boycott it for the rest of us.

QUESTION: Mr. Hill, what concrete measures did you agree to Japanese officials with regard to, like, protecting Japan and the United States from the further development of weapons of North Korea?

A/S HILL: Well, we had some discussions about the types of cooperation we're engaged in, cooperation in different fields. We also talked about the desire to coordinate and implement UN Security Council Resolution 1695. We want to make sure we're in synch together. I will also be discussing that with the Chinese and the ROK. But I think it's very important that this UN Security Council resolution, which is a very important resolution -- it was a unanimous resolution condemning the North Korean missile launch -- it's very important it be followed up by concrete action that it calls all its member states to take. So we had some very specific discussions on that, but I don't want to just discuss all those discussions with the press.

QUESTION: So this would include sanctions?

A/S HILL: It discusses the full implementation of 1695. So thank you very much, and I think I'm going to get moving and go on to China. Good to see you all.

Released on September 7, 2006


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