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Hill to Reporters Upon Arrival at Narita Airport

Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Narita Airport
Tokyo, Japan
December 16, 2006

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, it's a pleasure to be back here in Japan, in Tokyo. I'll be going to see my counterpart, Mr. Ken Sasae. And we'll have some discussions to continue our preparations for the next round of talks, which begin tomorrow night in Beijing. So we have worked very hard in the last month to get ready for these talks. We've certainly reviewed all our positions, and our purpose in getting to these talks, as I've said before, is not to talk; it is really to begin to implement the September statement, to move from the pages of the statement onto the ground. So let's see if all our preparations can lead to some real progress this week.

QUESTION: And the DPRK’s nuclear envoy Kim said in Beijing today that lifting sanctions must come first. How do you react to that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think Mr. Kim knows well what the status of the UN sanctions are. I think he knows very well what the resolution is. And I think he also knows very well what we’re trying to do is achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and I hope he’s given some thought to that.

QUESTION: Kind of the same question, but Mr. Kim Gye Gwan has said that you have to change the hostile policy in order to change the situation. What do you say to that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we've had some discussions of that, and I have made very clear that the U.S. has a hostile policy to the DPRK nuclear policies. So I'm not going to negotiate with Mr. Kim through the media. I think we’ll have ample opportunity when we get together tomorrow.

QUESTION: Are you going to meet with Mr. Kim Gye Gwan tomorrow?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I believe we have a series of bilateral meetings tomorrow in advance of the Six-Party Talks, which as I understand get ready tomorrow night. And so I believe I will be meeting Kim Gye Gwan bilaterally tomorrow afternoon.

QUESTION: Last time you came here you said the ball is in the North Koreans& rsquo; court. But . . .

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, the ball is in the North Koreans’ court. They got back to the Chinese, and on the basis of what the Chinese heard, the Chinese asked if the other participants could come to Beijing for the start of talks. So we were informed by the Chinese that in the view of the Chinese we could make progress, and they base that view on their meetings with the parties, including with the DPRK.

QUESTION: Kim Gye Gwan said they have already stated all their demands in the Beijing talks in the last round.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think we had a good discussion, and I gave him some ideas of things that we want to get accomplished, and let's see if they're ready to do that.

QUESTION: Mr. Kim said that he doesn’t hold any optimistic outlook for the talks. What would you say to that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, I don't want to be talking to Mr. Kim through the media. I look forward to seeing him tomorrow and exchanging views with him then.

QUESTION: Mr. Wu is meeting with Sasae-san in Beijing together. Why are you so concerned about Japan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I like Tokyo. But Mr. Sasae asked if I could stop here. He felt it would be useful to meet with him and some members of his team, but also some of the other officials here in Tokyo, so I think I have a program tonight which will have several elements. I think the Embassy is maybe better informed than I am about precisely what my program is. But tomorrow morning I depart and go to Beijing.

QUESTION: Are you going to discuss human-rights issues, abduction issue with Sasae-san?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Our plan is to discuss how we’re getting ready for the Six-Party Process. Of course, whenever we talk to our Japanese friends and colleagues we talk about all of the issues of concern, including the abduction issues.

QUESTION: And the South Korean Defense Minister said on Friday that Pyongyang is preparing another test during the Six-Party Talks. Do you agree with that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I saw that report, but I don’t have any other information about it. Okay?

QUESTION: Are you more optimistic [inaudible]?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Optimistic? No, I’ll be able to answer that question much better a week from now. So ask me a week from now whether I feel optimistic. Okay? Great to see you all. Released on December 17, 2006


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