Assistant Secretary Campbell' s Comments on North Korea

Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
South Korea's Foreign Ministry
Seoul, South Korea
July 18, 2009

ASSISTANT SECRTARY CAMPBELL: We believe it's important to keep the door open to send a very clear message should North Korea decide that it wants to return to the table for responsible negotiations and takes irreversible steps, we would be prepared to sit with them in six-party framework

I think the truth of the matter is, down this path that North Korea has chosen lies greater tensions, greater hardship for its people, more isolation and a lack of engagement in the international economy. I think it's unsustainable and we believe over time that North Korea will ultimately choose to re-engage.

The United States and South Korea have explored the option of a five party meeting at some point, preparations need to be taken for such a meeting. I am not sure we will be ready to do it in Phuket.

I would say at this juncture, the most important quality that the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia can demonstrate is patience.

If North Korea is prepared to take serious and irreversible steps that the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and others would be able to put together a comprehensive package that would be attractive to North Korea. But in this respect, North Korea really has to take some of the first steps.