Preview in Japan of Secretary Clinton's Travel to Asia

Christopher R. Hill
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Upon Arrival at Haneda Airport
Tokyo, Japan
February 16, 2009

QUESTION: Today I would like to get your impression about the final visit to Japan.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: About the final visit to Japan? Well, I’m going to see Mr. Saiki in about a half an hour for a talk about my observations in Beijing and South Korea, and then I’m going to get ready for Secretary Clinton to arrive tonight.

QUESTION: What kind of message are you going to deliver by talking with the other officials in China and Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m going to just inform Mr. Saiki about my meetings with Wu Da-wei and with Kim Sook in Korea; give him my impressions of what the overall situation looks like, and maybe do a little previewing of the visit of Secretary Clinton.

QUESTION: What about the topic cropping up regarding a missile issue when you were in Korea and talking to Mr. Sook Kim?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, yeah. We’re going to be discussing a lot of different tissues, certainly related to North Korea’s behavior (inaudible), so there’ll be a lot of issues we’re going to discuss.

QUESTION: How do you think about North Korea’s behavior regarding missiles affecting the Six-Party Talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I don’t want to get into specific issues, but obviously we’ve had some real concerns about their behavior lately. One of the issues, for example, is their behavior toward the South Koreans, which has been very unhelpful, not only in North-South relations, but also in the Six Parties as well.

QUESTION: How do you see the expectations for the next Six-Party Talks schedules and everything?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, we have to see. I had a good discussion with the Chinese. I look forward to briefing Mr. Saiki about that, and the Chinese certainly have some ideas of what they would like to do to see things getting going.

QUESTION: The Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton, is coming here to Tokyo, and how are you going to collaborate with the Secretary of State when she is in Japan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I’m going to go with her on her trip through East Asia starting tonight and ending next week.

QUESTION: And the last one: Regarding Mr. Saiki, what kind of message are you going to deliver, since the --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well again, we’re just going to have a conversation, and it’s going to be a conversation based on my observations and what I saw in Beijing, what I’ve seen in Seoul. And before I started this trip, we informed him that we would be going to -- that I would be going to Beijing and talking to the Chinese about various issues, especially the Six-Party Talks, so I’m just going report to him on that.

QUESTION: Today is the birthday of Kim Jong Il, and did you talk anything about that issue --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: About sending him a birthday card or something? No, I don’t think we did. I think we’re going to discuss overall what the security situation looks like these days. Ok?

QUESTION: A couple of questions: How do you make analysis or judgment, or how probable, how imminent is the launch of a missile from --

A/S HILL: Again, I don’t want to get into specific issues like that. Obviously we’ve had real concerns about the behavior of the North Koreans recently, especially their public statements about South Korea, which are simply unhelpful, unconducive to the kind of atmosphere we are interested in creating in the region.

QUESTION: I understand this is a very important agenda of talks between Japan and the U.S.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think it’s very important that Secretary Clinton is making her first trip out of the U.S. to East Asia, and in particular the first stop on the East Asia trip is to Japan. So I think it very much reflects the importance of how we consider the U.S.-Japan relationship. Ok?

QUESTION: Thank you very much.