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Chris Hill Comments Upon Arrival in Osaka, Japan

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Kansai International Airport
Osaka, Japan
June 25, 2008

Comments to Reporters Upon Arrival in Osaka, Japan

QUESTION: So tomorrow, North Korea will give a declaration tomorrow. Is it going to happen sometime after 12:30?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: First of all, just let me say I am really looking forward to seeing Kyoto. It's one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and it's my first chance to go to Kyoto. So I'm really looking forward to getting there. Japan has a really important role in hosting the G8. They're doing the G8 foreign ministers' meeting. We're very pleased to be here. I know Dr. Rice is really looking forward to getting here tomorrow. I'm sorry, you had another question?

QUESTION: Yes. North Korea will give its declaration tomorrow --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we've talked to the Chinese, and we're expecting the North Koreans to turn in their declaration to the Chinese, probably tomorrow. That's the target date.

QUESTION: Is it going to happen sometime after 12:30?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don't know. You'll have to check with the Chinese. You know the way it works is they turn in the declaration to the Chinese, who are the chair of the Six Parties. And then the Chinese, I think, will inform the rest of us that they have received the declaration. So I don't know what time that will be done. And then, as you know, the U.S. has some obligations, some bilateral obligations, that we will then take. But we need to know that the declaration has arrived first, and then we will take our obligations.

QUESTION: I understand you don't know exactly what time it will be. It will be sometime in the afternoon or -

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don't know. You'll have to check with the Chinese. Again, this is the Six-Party process. It was agreed quite a while ago that they would turn the declaration in to the chair of the Six-Party process. At that point I think the Chinese will be in touch with all of us, probably through our embassies. And then the U.S. has to take some steps. We're obliged to take a couple of important steps. And I think the Chinese will try to organize a Six-Party meeting, a Six-Party head of delegation meeting. And I would expect to be attending that.

QUESTION: [Inaudible] delisting announcement?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, first we need to know they received the declaration, and then that will be probably at night Washington time -- there's a time difference -- and then I think the U.S. will move on a couple of things. As Secretary Rice has explained, they will be taken off the list of countries that are considered under the Trading with the Enemy Act, and also we will then inform Congress of our intention to remove them from the terrorism list. As you know, in our system we have a 45-day timeframe, during which the administration will inform Congress, and then there will be 45 days. And during that time, we're looking forward to working very hard on a verification system, which will be based on some verification principles that we've all talked about in the Six Parties.

So we hope we can do that. Also we would expect in that 45 days some other developments to take place, including the continuation and even acceleration of the DPRK-Japan talks that got underway with a certain amount of promising developments a couple of weeks ago.

So I think we've all got a lot of work to do. You know, the purpose of the Six-Party Talks is of course not to just get a declaration; it's to go from there and get a complete denuclearization. We need to move to the next phase, which we consider the abandonment phase, in which North Korea is supposed to abandon all of its weapons.

This declaration [inaudible] very complete listing, a very detailed listing of all of their nuclear [inaudible]. They've acknowledged making the plutonium. So we need to know precisely how much plutonium they've got. And the declaration should give us those figures, plus the means to verify this -- because it's very important, in fact essential, that the declaration include verification.

So we all have a lot of work to do. We look forward to having a lot of discussions with our Japanese friends about that, because Japan and the U.S. are -- it's a very special alliance. As we go into the Six-Party process, we go in together. And we are going to get things out of the Six-Party process together. We are going to keep working together on things that are very important for all of us.

QUESTION: In terms of the abduction issue, does North Korea have to take action within 45 days?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we have worked with the North Koreans on the great need to address their relationship with Japan. And of course the key element of that -- the very key element of that -- is to address the issue of abductions. So we're pleased that this process has begun. But of course we're not just looking for a couple of meetings and that's the end of it. We're looking, rather, for a real process that can provide some closure -- that is, can make very clear what happened. And we hope that this can be a start to what also should happen in the Six-Party process -- that is, in the context of full denuclearization we can have full normalization of U.S.-North Korean ties and also North Korean-Japan ties. And of course this involves getting a sort of new attitude about the abduction issue on the part of the North Koreans -- to understand that this is a major issue not only to the Japanese Government, but to the Japanese people.

So we want to work very closely, as we have up until now, in constant daily contact with Saiki-san, who is my counterpart on this. And so let's see if we can make progress. But I don't want to get into the specifics of what's tied to what -- except to say that this is a matter that Secretary Rice and President Bush have said on many occasions is very important to us.

QUESTION: Is there any chance to meet Saiki-san while you are here?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think there's a chance to meet him. He's very busy in Tokyo, but maybe he can come down to Kyoto.

QUESTION: But not today?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don't know. I'll have to check with our --

QUESTION: Sometime in the evening at your hotel?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: If you don't mind, I'd really like to get on and see Kyoto before it gets dark. Thank you very much.

Released on June 25, 2008

ENDS

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