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Press Availability Upon Departing Hotel Okura

Press Availability Upon Departing Hotel Okura

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

Tokyo, Japan
September 4, 2006

ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE HILL: Nice to see you all again.

QUESTION: So, what's the purpose of your visit?

A/S HILL: Well, this is just part of a regular consultation. It's the beginning of the fall season. We anticipate having a very busy fall. First, I'll be seeing my counterparts from the Foreign Ministry on the subject of North Korea , implementation of 1695. And then, we'll be discussing the diplomatic track. Unfortunately, despite the fact that we are very much ready to have a diplomatic track, the D.P.R.K. does not seem to be as enthusiastic as we are about pursuing the diplomatic track, and obviously, this is a very big problem for the six-party process. But I'll also have this opportunity, I think, to talk about the way forward on some of the regional Asian issues. Also, you know, we have APEC coming up in a couple of months in Hanoi . I look forward to some discussions about the APEC situation. And then, of course, I will be discussing some bilateral issues. You know the US and Japan have a very close, very warm relationship. I think we worked very, very well in July over the North Korean missile launch issue. And so it's just a part of regular consultation. From here, I'll go on to China for a couple of days, and then I'll swing back through the R.O.K., and then return to Washington .

QUESTION: There's a major concern of the nuclear testing, possibly at D.P.R.K. If they actually go on with it, what will be the government's reaction?

A/S HILL: Well, I think that all the governments in the region, in fact, almost all governments in the world, have made very clear that this would be a very unwelcome development, and that the D.P.R.K. should really think long and hard before it takes such a very provocative step. I think we have made very clear our views on this. I know the Japanese government has done the same. And I hope the D.P.R.K. will understand that their future lies not with these sorts of tests, but rather with coming to the negotiating table and implementing the September agreement.

QUESTION: What incentives are you going to ask North Korea ?

A/S HILL: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: What incentives are you going to propose to North Korea to come back to the Six-Party Talks?

A/S HILL: Well, we're not proposing incentives to North Korea to come back to the talks to implement an agreement that they agreed to. All six parties agreed to that, and I don't think any party should be giving incentives to another party to come and implement what everyone's agreed to.

QUESTION: Do you have any specific information on a possible nuclear test or a missile?

A/S HILL: You know, I'm not coming with any specific information. I know there's been some concern expressed about that. We have found that the D.P.R.K. government often does things with a sense of not consulting with others. So obviously, there are reasons to be concerned, but I have nothing specific on that. I think what's important though, is all the countries in the six-party process – in fact, the countries in the region – need to work very closely and be in close cooperation. And I'm here in Tokyo as part of that process.

QUESTION: There is a rumor that Mr. Kim Jong Il is going to visit Beijing or he is in Beijing already. Did you hear anything about that?

A/S HILL: Well, obviously, I've heard those rumors, as well. I think they've been widely reported in your press here. I don't have any specific information about that, and certainly, my trip to China has nothing to do with any of those rumors.

QUESTION: Do you have any new proposal that you're going to discuss with your counterparts to bring back North Korea to the negotiating table?

A/S HILL: Again, we have no new proposals. We have no incentive packages or anything like that. What we have is a September agreement – now, unfortunately, one full year old. And it's a very good agreement. It's a good agreement for everybody, including the D.P.R.K.  And we would hope the D.P.R.K. would take a look at it and come back. You know, I think it's very important for everyone to be very closely together on this point. There is no reason for the D.P.R.K. to stay away from the diplomatic process. What I want to make clear is that my government is very much committed to that process; we're very much committed to these talks, and we are available. We've been available every day since the D.P.R.K. last participated, and we continue to be available to restart the diplomatic process.

QUESTION: Available for bilateral talks?

A/S HILL: We are available for the six-party process, and within that, we can have as many bilateral meetings as the D.P.R.K. would like to have.

QUESTION: Japan has stepped up its defense alliance with the United States -- Aegis destroyer and everything like that. Don't you think that's also a reason North Korea is not wanting to come back to the Six-Party Talks?

A/S HILL: Well, first of all, I think the U.S. and Japan have a very strong alliance. It's an alliance that we're very pleased about, we're very proud to have with Japan . And the fact that we are together in these difficult times should not be a surprise to anybody, because I think we all feel a need to be very close and to consult very closely through this difficult period. So certainly, the D.P.R.K. has helped bring a lot of countries more closely together. You know, the U.S. has been working very closely with a lot of partners in the region, thanks to the D.P.R.K. behavior, which is very much out of step with everyone else's.

So thank you very much. I know you've been out here for a while, and I've got to get on to a dinner. You should do the same.

Released on September 7, 2006

ENDS

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