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Hill Speaking to Reporters at the Okura Hotel

Speaking to Reporters at the Okura Hotel

Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Tokyo, Japan
October 17, 2006


QUESTION: Mr. Hill, United States confirmed North Korean nuclear test. What do you think about that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we knew that North Korea had said before they performed the test that it was going to be a nuclear test. The question was to try to confirm it with our own means, and we were able to do that with one of the tests that examined some of the air particles. So frankly it was not a surprising development that it's been confirmed, but I think it certainly reinforces the need for us all to work very closely together. We're very pleased that Secretary Rice will be out here in just another 24 hours to discuss implementation of 1718 and to discuss more broadly how Japan and the U.S. can continue to work very closely together on this. I think we also wanted very much to emphasize the closeness of our alliance and the fact that the United States stands very much by its treaty commitments, by its deterrence of any aggression on the part of North Korea toward Japan. So I think for us it will be a very timely visit, and we very much look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Abe, Foreign Minister Aso, and the rest of this team here. So thank you.

QUESTION: What did you discuss with Mr. Kawai?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, with Mr. Kawai, who is in charge of the U.S. relationship, we discussed a number of questions. Of course we discussed 1718. We discussed the issues of how we will implement that. We discussed what we believe the agenda should be when Secretary Rice comes to Tokyo. We also discussed when we could get our President together with your Prime Minister. So we discussed various ideas for when that could be accomplished, and generally reviewed the state of a very, very good bilateral relationship. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Let's get back to the rest of Negroponte's announcement. How does it affect your mission?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I don't believe it has much effect on our mission, because we knew that the North Koreans said they were going to do a test, then they said they had done a test, and for us the only question was to try to verify it, and we appear now to have verified it. So this is not a surprise for us. I don't think it changes the situation. But I think it's a good reminder of the need to move swiftly and firmly but calmly in approaching the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution and in making clear to the North Koreans that we are not going to accept that North Korea should become a nuclear weapons state. If North Korea thinks that by performing the test they will have announced themselves into a club, they need to understand that they are not going to be accepted as a member of that club. And that's what we're going to be working on in the days and weeks ahead. So thank you.

QUESTION: After you come back to Tokyo tomorrow, will you stay with Secretary Rice the rest of the trip?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, I will. Actually, she will go on to Moscow, and I will turn and do some further work in Asia. After I leave China, I'll be going to Fiji, where there's a conference, and I'll be seeing the people from the Pacific, including Prime Minister Howard and Prime Minister Clark. I'll be briefing them on what we're doing in this North Korea situation.

QUESTION: Are you going to Seoul?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I'm going to Seoul right now.

QUESTION: So what are you going to discuss?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think I'll be discussing in Seoul many of the similar things that we've been discussing here in Tokyo. And of course Dr. Rice will go to Seoul after she's been to Tokyo, and so I'd like to preview those discussions with the Seoul government. So, thank you very much.

Released on October 18, 2006

ENDS


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