Current Situation in the Six Parties

Christopher R. Hill
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Remarks With Kim Sook, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Seoul, South Korea
February 15, 2009

[Note: Special Representative Kim Sook spoke in Korean, so his comments and the questions directed to him and his answers are not included here.]


(Speaking in English.) Ambassador --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, thank you very much. This is a very quick trip in advance of the visit of Secretary Clinton. It’s a good opportunity to compare notes with Ambassador Kim about the (inaudible) situation in the Six Parties, in particular the situation posed currently by the DPRK. We discussed a lot of aspects of the Six Parties but we also discussed the concerns we have about the DPRK behavior of late.

And I think it’s also a significant visit in that I think it is my last visit here as head of delegation of the Six-Party Talks - the U.S. delegation of the Six-Party Talks. I started about four years ago this month in February 2005. I think four years is a long time. In fact I think, Ambassador Kim, that you are the third ROK head of delegation that I’ve worked with. And, by the way, you’ve all been terrific. (laughter) It’s been a really great opportunity to serve in this capacity and I know that the U.S. and the ROK will continue to stand very close, shoulder to shoulder, and we’ll work together to see that our joint statement of September 2005 is finally fully realized.

QUESTION: Ambassador, are you satisfied with what you have done? As Washington’s (inaudible) envoy?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again,I am not sure that I want to turn this into an exit interview, but I always think it is important to try to do your best and try as hard as you can and work as hard as you can. And I certainly feel that I’ve done that. I think that what needs to be done, though, is that the September ’05 joint statement needs to be fulfilled and the DPRK needs to get on with things and complete the denuclearization. We’ve had too many interruptions and the interruptions have slowed us down too much.

QUESTION: How was Mr. Kim Kye-gwan as a counterpart?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well,again, really, I’m not standing here to talk about the Six Parties as some nostalgic activity. It’s a pretty tough assignment and I think there will be some very clearly competent people who will follow me in this and I hope we can make some progress. Alright?

QUESTION: Ambassador, is that true you will be serving as Ambassador to Iraq?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I’m not someone in charge of making government announcements so I’m not going to comment on that.

QUESTION: Do you have an idea about the next (inaudible) of Six-Party Talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t. I had some good discussions last night about that with our Chinese counterpart, Wu Da-wei. I know that the issue of the Six-Party Talks will be a major topic of discussion when Secretary Clinton comes to the region.

QUESTION: (Speaking in Korean.)


QUESTION: Ambassador Hill, there are some voices from Washington, D.C. which indicate that North Korea is accepted as a kind of (inaudible) with nuclear weapons.


QUESTION: (inaudible)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We do not, and have never, accepted North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. I want to make that very clear. We do not do that. We do not accept them and we never have. So there are no voices on that, believe me.

QUESTION: Can you clarify some voices which indicate that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I can only tell you that the U.S. position is we do not accept them as a nuclear weapons state.

QUESTION: Ambassador, North Korea has asked for arms reduction talks with you directly. Is that a possibility?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The U.S. position is that we will work with our partners in the Six-Party process to achieve the full realization of the September ’05 statement. That is how we are proceeding with denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

QUESTION: Do you think it is possible for North Korea to launch a missile test so soon?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, I don’t want to comment on some of those things publicly except to say that we’re all in very close contact on those subjects.
Okay, yes?

QUESTION: Have you got a present from Kim Sook?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I got a beautiful plaque. (laughter)

QUESTION: (Speaking in Korean.)

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE KIM: Well, it’s now his, so you can ask him. (laughter)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think it’s already been moved to the car. Maybe we’ll do it another time. Okay?