Afternoon Walkthrough in Seoul, South Korea

Stephen W. Bosworth
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Seoul, South Korea
March 9, 2009

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Good afternoon. We have had very useful and very extensive conversations here today, meeting with the President and other senior officials in the government. This comes as part of our consultation with all of the other members of the Six-Party process. We were in Beijing. We were in Tokyo. And we met here with the Russians on Saturday morning, and then of course today with the ROK. I’d like to say just a couple of things, and then I’ll take just a couple of questions.

First, one of the things that I emphasized in my conversations today - as I have around the region - is that the fundamental goal of the United States remains unchanged and that is the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We cannot contemplate a situation in which in any way we would change that goal.

Secondly, we continue to regard the Six-Party process as the central element of our effort to continue with the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. And within that - clearly because of our alliance - the need for U.S. cooperation and coordination with the Republic of Korea is paramount. And we are dedicated to that.

We are hopeful that we can see the resumption of the Six-Party process in the relatively near future. We exchanged views on how best to try to bring that about. And I think we have the basis for further consultations with our other partners in the Six-Party process and should be able to look forward to an early resumption of those efforts.

So I would take a couple of questions, if you wish then.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, did you reach an agreement on how you would react to a possible missile launch?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: We’ve discussed extensively the possible -- possibility of a North Korean missile launch. I think, first of all, we are in strong agreement - as are all of the other members of the five parties - that this would be extremely ill-advised for North Korea to do this. We and the ROK clearly view it as a contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1718, and we have agreed to remain in very close consultations as we move forward on this subject.

QUESTION: Ambassador?


QUESTION: Ambassador, North Korea’s decision today to end or disconnect any military contact with South Korea -- how does that affect the progress or lack thereof in the Six-Party Talks?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, obviously this is something that we regret. We think that improved communication between South and North Korea must, in the longer run, be a key component of the Six-Party effort to reduce tensions and to bring about the denuclearization of the peninsula. So I wouldn’t have any comment beyond that.

QUESTION: Ambassador, the North Koreans said today that shooting down their so-called satellite would mean a war. Do you have any comments on that?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, we have no comment on that. Clearly our hope is that they don’t try to launch a satellite or fire a missile with -- for whatever reason. As I indicated, our view is very strongly that under UN Resolution 1718 -- whether they describe it as a satellite launch or something else makes no difference, that they are - would be - in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1718.

QUESTION: You just mentioned that the Six-Party Talks are the central element. I understand you are seeking high-level contact with North Koreans. How does it fit with the Six-Party Talks?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: We’ve always, for the most part -- there have been some exceptions, but for the most part -- the U.S. has always been willing to have high level contacts with the North Koreans. I think the key here is that we do that in commitment to our partners, the other countries in the Six-Party process, that we will remain fully-engaged with them, and we will coordinate very closely. But - as the new administration in office takes office in Washington - we are basically committed to be willing to have dialogue with anyone. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be automatically in agreement, and it certainly does not mean, in this case, that our commitment to the Six-Party process is any less.

So thank you all very much. I’ll look forward to seeing you on my next trip back here.

QUESTION: And you’re not going to North Korea?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I’m going home tomorrow.