Remarks to the Media in Tokyo

Stephen W. Bosworth
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Residence of the U.S. Embassy Chargé d'Affaires
Tokyo, Japan
March 6, 2009

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Good evening. Some familiar faces I recognize. I just wanted to meet with you briefly and give you a brief report on what we’ve been doing here in Tokyo for the last two days.

Soon after I was appointed to this position, Secretary Clinton and the President asked me to come to Northeast Asia as soon as possible to undertake consultations with our partners, allies, and friends in the area on how we should proceed next on the subject of dealing with North Korea.

We’ve had very good conversations here. I think we have wide areas of convergence of views and convergence of policy goals, and we will be working hard over the next weeks and months to ensure that that continues. Here I met with the Foreign Minister, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Ambassador Nakayama and of course several people within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including Director General Saiki, Vice Minister Yabunaka, and Deputy Minister Sasae. These were all very constructive conversations, and I think we have - very much - a lot of agreement on where we’re going to go next. We agree that we would like to resume the Six-Party Talks as soon as possible. And we agree very strongly that it would be best if North Korea did not fire a missile, whether it’s a satellite launch or a missile. For us, it makes no difference.

So I would be happy to take a few questions, and again, it’s always a pleasure to come to Tokyo. We’ve been enjoying ourselves here - working hard - but enjoying ourselves.

QUESTION: Thank you for taking your time tonight, and I’ll be asking you some questions on behalf of all the media tonight. And the first question is: You are visiting North Korea? I heard that you showed some interest in visiting North Korea, and I was wondering how soon you’ll be coming, or who you’ll be meeting with, and how long you are going there.

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I have no plans to visit North Korea at this point on this trip. I would assume I will be going to North Korea at some time. By coincidence, before I accepted this position, I visited North Korea as a private citizen with a small delegation of other American academics and scholars. So I have been to North Korea actually within the last four weeks. But I have no plans at this point to go there on this trip.

QUESTION: Under which kind of condition will it come to a visit?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, I’m not sure. You know, a lot depends upon what North Korea decides to do. But we remain of the view that it’s important that we move ahead on the Six-Party process - for us, for Japan, for the other members of the Six-Party process. It remains the central element in our dealing with the issues and problems on the Korean peninsula. We leave here tomorrow morning. We’re going to Seoul, where, by coincidence, the Russian delegation is visiting. We will be meeting with them, and then we, of course, will have extensive meetings and conversations with the ROK.

QUESTION: And about the Six-Party Talks, you talked with your Japanese counterparts about resuming the Six-Party Talks? Under which condition will you resume?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, the condition being that we can resume. We are in the final stages of our policy review in Washington, in the Obama Administration. And I think we are confident that the five parties see this situation very much the same. And we’re going to move ahead as soon as we can. We hope that North Korea refrains from the provocation of firing a missile, and if they don’t refrain -- if that does happen -- then obviously we’ll have to take stock and decide how to respond and what we will do. But I’m confident that we can respond in a common fashion.

QUESTION: And in your visit to Japan, you said you agreed in lots of aspects. Could you clarify or [explain] in detail?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, I don’t want to go into great detail, but obviously there are a number of important subjects that we have to address: the denuclearization issue, the question of missiles, and of course - particularly in the case of Tokyo and Japan - the question of the abductees. And my government continues to express strong solidarity with Japan on this subject. And in the Obama Administration, there is a plan in which we are going to continue to press the North Koreans. We understand the importance of this issue here in Japan.

QUESTION: And the last question is: North Korea has [made] the threat to the South Korean airliners [and] civilian airliners. What is your reaction to that?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, I would refer you to the Department of State press spokesman, who commented on this within the last several hours. This is, we believe, very undesirable. It’s a provocation, and it’s unacceptable, so this is something that I think is being discussed.

So, thank you all very much. And I look forward to seeing you on my next visit to Tokyo.

QUESTION: Could I just have one follow-up question on abductions?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Only because you met me at the airport in Boston. (Laughter)

QUESTION: You said you are going to keep on pressuring North Korea on that issue, and Ambassador Hill was always raising that specific topic on the U.S.-DPRK talks. And are you going to keep on taking that position. Or do you have any new concrete idea on how to keep on pressuring them?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, I think it’s a question of persuading them to recognize their own self-interest. They have an interest in resolving this problem, because without it, it’s going to be very difficult to achieve normalization. And I think that in time - if we continue to talk to them about it - I have some degree of confidence that we can find solutions. This is of course primarily an issue between the DPRK and Japan, but we are strongly supporting resolving that issue. Okay?

QUESTION: Ambassador, just one more thing: You are the special representative for the North Korean issue, and Mr. Sung Kim is the special envoy to the Six-Party Talks. How are you going to separate the roles, to solve this problem?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, he’s going to go to the Six-Party Talks, and I’m going to do other things. But I will obviously be very much engaged in the formulation of policy within the Six-Party Talks. I am very fortunate to have someone like Ambassador Kim working with me. He’s got great experience, and he understands the issues very well. So there is no problem. We agree on the division of responsibilities. Thank you.

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