Morning Walkthrough in Beijing, China

Stephen W. Bosworth
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Westin Chaoyang Hotel
Beijing, China
September 4, 2009

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Good morning. It is nice to see you all again. We are at the beginning of a trip through Northeast Asia. We have spent yesterday and this morning here in Beijing. We have had very good talks with Foreign Minister Yang, Vice-Foreign Minister Wu, and this morning with Director Wang Jiarui. We move from here today to Seoul, and then on Sunday we move to Tokyo.

In our talks yesterday and today here in Beijing, we confirmed that we and China share a very strong common approach to how to deal with the challenges of North Korea. We are agreed that complete, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula remains our core objective in our ongoing efforts with the DPRK. We are also agreed that this is a problem that has the kind of manifestations that require that it be dealt with on a multilateral basis. We would be open to bilateral engagement as well, but only within the context of the Six-Party process and as an effort to help rejuvenate and restart the Six-Party process.

We are very pleased with the level of coordination among the five. We are particularly pleased with our ability to maintain a coordinated position on implementation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions, and we intend to continue that. At the same time, on behalf of the Obama Administration, I have been reiterating our commitment to dialogue, our willingness to engage in dialogue with the DPRK, and that remains very central to our policy.

I would be pleased to take any questions that any of you might have, and I will respond to those as fully as I can.

QUESTION: Sir, do the North’s recent claims that they are in the final stages of the uranium enrichment program alarm you, and how does that change the context of these consultations?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, those claims were just made, as you know, I think overnight. I just learned of them this morning. Obviously, anything that the North is doing in the area of nuclear development is of concern to us. And these are issues that we are dealing with as they arrive. I think it, for all of us, reconfirms the necessity to maintain a coordinated position on the need for the complete, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

QUESTION: How about a response to the letter that the North wrote to the UN Security Council?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I’m not in a position to comment on that at all.

QUESTION: U.S. command said that the North’s behavior right now is “sweet and sour.” They give a little, but they’re looking for either easing of sanctions or dialogue.

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, I’m not in a position to interpret the North’s behavior. There are cycles that it goes through, as we know. We want to basically put the entire relationship on a durable, permanent footing, one which is built around the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but one which has within it opportunities for the improvement of bilateral relationships and progress on some of the regional issues.

QUESTION: Do you agree with the characterization that they are “sweet and sour,” or just “sour”?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I thought that was a characterization largely of Chinese food. I don’t have any comment on that.

QUESTION: Do you have any possibility of visiting North Korea during your trip this time?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I have no plans at the moment to go to North Korea.

QUESTION: But if they invite you?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, one of the things that we’re doing on this trip is to coordinate with our partners on the way in which we should respond to the invitations that the North Koreans have extended. And, based on our consultations, we will return to Washington and our consultations will help to inform the decision making that we go through on how best to re-engage with the North Koreans. I would stress that any bilateral with the North Koreans must be as a part of the Six-Party process and would be designed to advance that process.

QUESTION: I was in the new consulate in Dan Dong last week and the Deputy Consul told me that because Clinton went to North Korea our relations are “warmer,” U.S. relations are “warmer” with North Korea. Do you agree with that?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I don’t try to take the temperature of the relationship on daily occasions. I think that Mr. Clinton’s visit was a private visit, as you know. It had a very specific purpose, and we are very pleased that the two American journalists have been released. And, obviously, we will move on.

Thank you all very much. Good to see you.