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Hill Remarks on Arrival at St. Regis Hotel Beijing

Remarks on Arrival at St. Regis Hotel, Beijing

Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Beijing, China December 17, 2006

QUESTION: It’s an odd question but how many shirts did you bring?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, come on. [Laughter] The Six-Party Talks have been in abeyance now for over a year and we have felt it very necessary to get ready for this round and to make sure that this round is very productive. So, for the last, really, six weeks since the DPRK announced they’re coming back we& rsquo;ve worked very hard with all our partners, and including with the DPRK, on some specific ideas and we hope that everyone is coming here to work very hard. I know my delegation is prepared to work very hard on making some progress on this round. The task of course is very important, it’s been around for many, many years and that is to achieve denuclearization. We’ ll have to see how we do.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, this is the first round of talks since North Korea has now termed itself a nuclear power because it set off a nuclear device. How does that affect the complexion of the talks and their attitude about making concessions or making a deal with the other members of the talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We have told the DPRK on several occasions, many occasions -- the Chinese have told them, the Russians have told them, most of the world has told them -- that we don’t accept them as a nuclear state. If they want a future with us, if they want to work with us, if they want to be a member of the international community, they’re going to have to get out of this nuclear business. We’re prepared to do that through diplomatic negotiations. We’re very much committed to six party process. As I’ ve said before, it’s a process that I think has really helped get some cohesion to Northeast Asia to work together. So I hope the DPRK will see that and will come to the talks, actually starting tonight, ready to make some progress, on the real task, which is denuclearization.

QUESTION: Does that include civil nuclear power?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The issue for the DPRK right now is it is out of the NPT, out of IAEA safeguards, and is not eligible to be cooperating with other countries on even civil nuclear power. So, what they need to do is get out of the business that they’re in right now.

QUESTION: What are the plans for the rest of the day? Are you planning for a bilateral with them today?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Actually no, I think I’m going to see them tonight at the opening. We may have an opportunity to discuss things there. I think I will see the ROK delegation very soon, and then I will see the Chinese as well. At some point I think I’ll also be seeing the Russians, because you know I’ve just come from Tokyo and I had the opportunity to see Ken Sasae and his team in Tokyo last night.

QUESTION: Will you have a bilateral with North Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We are prepared to do that, we’ll have to see if they’re interested. Certainly, we’ve been in touch with them. I was here in Beijing a couple weeks ago for an opportunity to talk to them. We are prepared to talk to them if they’re interested. But I hope that they are coming here with a serious intention of moving ahead and implementing the September agreement because that’s what we’re all trying to do.

QUESTION: What’s the best that could come of the initial three days?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, I don’t know. I think what we’re going to do is work with the Chinese hosts on coming up with an agreement among the six. And the agreement, in our view, needs to contain some real progress, real progress in implementing the September agreement. The September agreement took a lot of time to put some ideas down on paper, now we have to take those ideas that are on paper and move them to the ground.

QUESTION: How confident are you that you can resolve the situation?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know. I was reading a book on the airplane coming over from the States about the negotiations in the late ‘ 80s and early ‘90s. I must say it’s a little discouraging when you read about nuclear negations with the DPRK coming from almost twenty years ago. So I hope the DPRK understands, as the rest of us do, that we really are reaching a fork in the road. We can either go forward on a diplomatic track or we have to go to a much more difficult track and that is a track that involves sanctions and, I think, ultimately will really be very harmful to the DPRK economy. I have argued many times that I think the possession of the nuclear weapons and these nuclear programs for the DPRK are not a means for survival but are really quite the opposite.

QUESTION: [Inaudible] Treasury …[inaudible]?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We’ll have a group here to talk to the DPRK about the financial issues, stemming from Macau. We agreed to do that. I think there will be some people from Treasury, I think Danny Glaser will be in charge of that, and the idea is to exchange information. We would like to solve that issue, but it of course depends on cooperation from the DPRK side, and it also depends on some legal matters, but we would like to have an open give-and-take on that, and see if we can make some progress. But I want to emphasize that& rsquo;s not really part of what we’re doing with the Six-Party Talks. The Six-Party Talks are aimed at denuclearization, and we’re going to keep very focused on that.

QUESTION: [Inaudible] the working group on financial matters will be held?


QUESTION: When the working group for financial matters will be held?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m sorry, you’ll have to ask someone else. I think it’s tomorrow, but you‘ll have to check with someone else. I’m pretty sure it’s tomorrow. But again, it’s a separate issue.

QUESTION: Any Christmas presents for your family?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: [Laughing] Any Christmas presents?

QUESTION: Without – besides Matsuzaka.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, Matsuzaka was a very good gift. Those of us from Boston are very pleased with that.

QUESTION: For your family.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I hope to get back by the end of the week, so that may be all I can do.

QUESTION: [Inaudible] if you don’t have an agreement by the end of this week on implementing concrete steps, like shutting down reactors, sending in inspectors, that's it, or …?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I didn’t say that. I don’t recall saying that.

QUESTION: But do you expect to have a concrete [inaudible]?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think what’s clear is that the six party process has gone over a year now, without meeting, without implementing the agreement that we all signed up to. So, I think it’s important for this process and make some real, concrete progress. We have to see where we are, and I think ultimately the DPRK has to decide what they want to do. They have had these nuclear programs for decades now, and they have to decide whether these nuclear programs are really in their interest or not.

QUESTION: Are you willing to end hostilities first? Because Kim Gye Gwan came and he said, 'we are willing to give up the weapons but the U.S. must end the hostilities,' so is the U.S. willing to give up…

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t want to negotiate with Mr. Kim through the media, so I look forward to talking to him beginning, I guess, tonight and tomorrow morning, and I will see precisely what he had in mind by that comment.

QUESTION: How big a step is it just that the talks are back on?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, the Six Party Talks -- it's not about talking, it’s about implementing the September agreement. Let’s see how we do with that this week.

QUESTION: Any new incentives on offer or the same incentive…?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The issue is to implement the September agreement and get on with the task and do something real this week, so we are going to work on that. Thank you very much. I really have to get moving here. Thank you.

Released on December 17, 2006


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