Cablegate: Prc: Deputy Secretary Steinberg's September 29,
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6596
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Monday, 26 October 2009, 00:33
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TAGS OVIP (STEINBERG, JAMES B.), PREL, PGOV, PARM, MNUC,
CH, KN, KS
SUBJECT: PRC: DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG’S SEPTEMBER 29,
2009 CONVERSATION WITH STATE COUNCILOR DAI BINGGUO
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Aubrey Carlson. Reasons 1 .4 (b/d).
1. (SBU) September 29, 2009; 3:00 p.m.; Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound; Beijing
2. (SBU) Participants:
The Deputy Secretary Amb. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Embassy Beijing Joseph Donovan, EAP Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Rear Admiral Charles Leidig, Joint Chiefs of Staff Amb. Joseph DeTrani, Mission Manager for North Korea, DNI Derek Mitchell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Amb. Sung Kim, Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks Pamela Park, Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary Nancy Leou, Embassy Political Officer (notetaker) James Brown, Interpreter
State Councilor Dai Bingguo Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei Guan Youfei, Ministry of National Defense, Deputy Director, International Office Zheng Zeguang, Director General, MFA North American and Oceanian Affairs Department Zhang Kunsheng, Director General, MFA Protocol Department Yang Houlan, Ambassador for Korean Peninsula Issues Li Song, Deputy Director General, MFA Arms Control and Disarmament Department Cong Peiwu, Counselor, MFA North American and Oceanian Affairs Department
3. (S) SUMMARY: In a September 29 meeting with State Councilor Dai Bingguo, the Deputy Secretary stressed the importance of persuading Pyongyang to return to the path of denuclearization. Dai said that the U.S.-China relationship was off to a good start under the new U.S. administration and urged the two countries to avoid “setbacks.” During his recent trip to North Korea, Dai said, he met with DPRK leader Kim Jong-il for two and one half hours and Kim appeared to be in reasonably good health. Dai said he had urged Pyongyang to return to the Six-Party Talks. Dai’s DPRK interlocutors had responded that they wanted bilateral engagement with the United States first and that they would consider next steps, including possible multilateral talks, depending on the outcome of U.S.-DPRK bilateral talks. Dai said that Premier Wen’s October 4-6 visit to Pyongyang would be another opportunity for China and North Korea to exchange views on the nuclear issue. On Iran, Dai said China and the United States had the same objectives but that China would work on Iran in its own way. China believed peaceful negotiation would achieve a more meaningful resolution than sanctions would, and, Dai urged, the United States should be more patient. D responded that patience could not be unlimited in light of Iran’s continued enrichment program in violation of UNSC resolutions. Dai assured the Deputy Secretary that China and the United States would work together to prepare for President Obama’s November visit to China. Dai supported the idea of a “concise and substantive” joint document to be issued in conjunction with the visit. End Summary.
Full Strategy to Address North Korea
4. (S) The Deputy Secretary met with State Councilor Dai Bingguo for an eighty-minute discussion on North Korea, Iran, and the U.S.-China relationship on September 29. The Deputy Secretary stressed the importance of fashioning a full strategy to address the DPRK nuclear issue and having a unified position among Six-Party Talks partners and allies that would lead to an effective and diplomatic resolution of the problem. He expressed support for Premier Wen Jiabao’s October 4-6 trip to Pyongyang and said both countries should work to persuade Pyongyang to return to the Six-Party Talks and to reaffirm the 2005 Joint Statement. The United States was prepared to have meaningful, substantive engagement with
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a senior North Korean official and would use the any bilateral discussion to encourage Pyongyang to return to the Six-Party Talks. The Deputy Secretary expressed appreciation for China’s efforts to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1874.
U.S.-China Relations on Positive Track
5. (S) State Councilor Dai said that President Obama and President Hu had had several opportunities to meet in recent months. After watching the two leaders interact in New York, Dai observed, the two presidents appeared to be “old friends.” Dai thanked the U.S. Government for its “careful arrangements” for President Hu’s visit to New York, as well as for National People’s Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo’s recent, successful visit to the United States. Dai expressed appreciation to President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Geithner for their personal contributions in making the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) a great success. Dai was confident that the S&ED would have a positive global impact and confided that China had already begun thinking about the next round. The U.S.-China relationship was off to a good start under the new U.S. administration despite some “unpleasant things.” Dai urged the two countries to keep up a good momentum in the bilateral relationship and to work hard t o avoid “setbacks.”
Dai’s Visit to Pyongyang
6. (S) Regarding his recent visit to Pyongyang, Dai briefly recounted his two-hour meeting with DPRK leader Kim Jong-il. Dai said he was on relatively familiar terms with Kim, because he had met with Kim on several occasions in his previous role as Director of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee International Liaison Department (CCID). Dai admitted that in contrast with his discussion with Vice FM Kang (see below) his conversation with Kim was not as direct and candid and joked that he “did not dare” to be that candid with the DPRK leader. Dai noted that Kim had lost weight when compared to when he last saw him three years earlier, but that Kim appeared to be in reasonably good health and still had a “sharp mind.” Kim told Dai that he had hoped to invite the Chinese official to share some liquor and wine, but that because of scheduling problems, he would have to defer the offer to Dai’s next visit to North Korea. Kim Jong-il had a reputation among the Chinese for being “quite a good drinker,” and, Dai said, he had asked Kim if he still drank alcohol. Kim said yes. Dai said he also met briefly with Kim Yong-nam, President of the Supreme People’s Assembly, who invited him to attend the performance of a famous Chinese opera, “The Dream of the Red Chamber.”
7. (S) Dai said that he had had frank and blunt discussions with DPRK First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Suk-ju that totaled over two and one half hours. Dai said he told Kang that denuclearization should be Pyongyang’s first choice and that it was important for North Korea to return to Six-Party Talks. He had stressed to Kang that the Six-Party Talks mechanism was useful and explained that the ultimate resolution of the Korean Peninsula issue could not be resolved without the participation of the Six Parties. According to Dai, Kang responded that North Korea was still committed to the goal of denuclearization. Dai believed that the North Koreans had not categorically denied the Six-Party Talks and opined that under the right circumstances, it might be possible to revive the Six-Party Talks process. Dai’s North Korean interlocutors had emphasized the strong security threat it faced. The North Koreans told Dai that they wanted to have dialogue with the United States first and that they would consider next steps, including possible multilateral talks, depending on their conversation with the United States. North Korea held “great expectations for the United States,” said Dai. DPRK officials had told Dai that North Korea viewed former President Clinton’s visit to Pyongyang positively.
8. (S) Even though he had not had an opportunity to visit or observe any place other than Pyongyang, Dai said, his impression of North Korea was that the domestic situation appeared stable and normal. Dai opined that the DPRK
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appeared focused on two issues: improving its relationship with the United States and developing its economy.
U.S.-DPRK Bilateral Engagement
9. (S) China was aware that the United States was considering possible re-engagement with North Korea and supported U.S.-DPRK bilateral discussions, said Dai. With bilateral dialogue, there was “no limit to how far you could go.” China appreciated U.S. understanding and support for Premier Wen’s upcoming visit to Pyongyang. President Hu had already informed President Obama of the trip. Dai explained that it would have been “impolite” for China to not reciprocate with a high-level visit to Pyongyang after DPRK Premier Kim Yong-il had visited Beijing in March for the 60th anniversary celebration of Sino-DPRK ties. Wen’s visit would provide an opportunity for China and North Korea to exchange views on the nuclear issue, stated Dai.
10. (S) The Deputy Secretary thanked Dai for sharing his perceptions of the North Korea nuclear issue and stressed that President Obama wanted to make clear to the North Korean people and to Kim Jong-il that the United States did not have any hostile intent toward North Korea. The United States was ready to move forward to normalize relations with North Korea if Pyongyang moved toward denuclearization. The Deputy Secretary expressed hope that North Korea would agree to a meeting between Ambassador Bosworth and First VFM Kang Suk-ju to achieve that goal.
11. (S) The Deputy Secretary said the United States valued the joint effort it took to create the P5-plus-1 foreign ministers statement on Iran. He acknowledged that the United States and Iran had a long and complicated history of mistrust. The Deputy Secretary explained U.S. objectives and stressed that all sides had to take confidence-building steps that would lead to a diplomatic resolution. Recent disclosures by Iran underscored the need to deal with the issue urgently, and it was important that Iran give a strong signal during the October 1 meeting that demonstrated it was ready for serious engagement.
12. (S) Dai responded that China and the United States saw eye to eye on the Iran nuclear issue. Nuclear states should reduce their nuclear arsenal with the goal of eventual elimination and should work to prevent other nations, including Iran, from developing nuclear weapons. However, China and the United States had different considerations on how we advanced these goals. With a history of mistrust and mutual suspicion between the United States and Iran, it would not be easy to resolve the Iran nuclear issue. Dai urged the United States to have more patience, address Iran’s legitimate concerns, and work to identify and expand on the positive areas in the bilateral relationship.
13. (S) Dai characterized President Obama’s policy to resolve issues through dialogue and engagement as “wise.” Sanctions might work up to a point, but China believed peaceful negotiation would achieve a more meaningful resolution. Dai warned that pressing too hard might risk antagonizing Iran. Iran was not a small country, it had a long history and culture, and its people were not dumb. Dai urged the United States to resolve the issue in a “smart” manner. One meeting would not be able to resolve all problems, so the United States lower its expectation for the October 1 meeting. China would work on Iran in its own way and would urge Iran to seize the window of opportunity. Dai said China and the United States had the same objective, but said that each country would play a different role in achieving that objective.
14. (S) The Deputy replied that it was Iran that was “impatient” in its ongoing program of uranium enrichment in violation of the UNSC resolutions. The U.S. and the P5 1 would be more willing to be patient in discussions if Iran agreed to suspend its enrichment and forgo its overall? program. This would create an appropriate context for all sides to address underlying issues of concern.
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U.S. National Security Strategy
15. (S) Noting the Deputy’s interest in “strategy” Dai asked whether the Obama administration had an overarching national security strategy. the Deputy Secretary said that the National Security Strategy, which would likely be issued before the end of the year, would articulate the administration’s global strategy. He noted that the Secretary had recently identified major themes during her speech to the Council of Foreign Relations, including the importance of global cooperation in confronting today’s challenges. In that context, the U.S.-China relationship would play a core role. Dai said he looked forward to reading the strategy paper.
President Obama Visit to China
16. (S) Dai said that President Obama had recently told President Hu that he looked forward to having a “magnificent” visit to China. Asked how China could help achieve this, the Deputy Secretary said the two countries should seek to demonstrate to our peoples and to the international community how the U.S.-China relationship would help address global challenges in areas such as public health, nonproliferation and the environment. The two countries should seek to demonstrate how U.S.-China ties were between the two peoples, not just between the governments, diplomats and leaders. Dai assured the Deputy Secretary that China would work with the U.S. to prepare a successful visit. It would be “great,” said Dai, if the two sides could agree on language for the joint visit document that would be “concise, as well as substantive.”
Global Nuclear Security Summit
17. (S) Asked about U.S.-sought outcomes and goals for the Nuclear Security Summit, the Deputy Secretary explained that President Obama had laid out the three pillars of his nuclear policy during his Prague speech. The Nuclear Security Summit was designed to focus on one of those pillars-the need to safeguard nuclear material against theft or diversion. The risk of proliferation had increased with the expansion of new nuclear power programs and with the existence of unsecured legacy nuclear materials in former Soviet states. We needed to have assurances that the peaceful development of nuclear power programs and nuclear research did not pose proliferation risks.
The Same Boat
18. (S) The U.S.-China relationship was of crucial importance, said Dai. China would do its best to cooperate with the United States wherever possible. “If we expand the pie for the common interest, the pie will be larger and more delicious.” Together, the two sides should work collaboratively for the good of the world, especially since the two countries were “passengers in the same boat.” Dai urged careful management of the relationship and respect for each other’s core interests and concerns.
19. (U) The Deputy Secretary cleared this message. HUNTSMAN