Press Availability After Meeting at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Press Availability
Stephen W. Bosworth
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Seoul, South Korea
December 10, 2009

NSC DEPUTY SPOKESMAN CHANG: Thank you, everyone. Thank you for waiting. Good evening. If we could have folks settle down for the arrival of the ambassador. I now would like to introduce Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy who will be speaking about his recent trip to Pyongyang. Ambassador Bosworth.

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Good evening. It’s a pleasure to be here in Seoul and to see all of you. Many of you are familiar faces to me. I have just returned from Pyongyang, where I held extensive talks with officials of the DPRK. Those include First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Suk-ju, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, and others. Our discussions were held within the framework of the Six-Party Talks and were focused on the way to move forward on the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and implementation of the other elements of the Joint Statement of September 2005.

I reported by telephone to senior U.S. government officials about my discussions in Pyongyang and have just completed very good discussions here with Foreign Minister Yu and Ambassador Wi Sung-lac. I will report on my meetings and consult with other Six-Party partners over the next few days.

My purpose in meeting with the DPRK officials in Pyongyang was to facilitate the resumption of the Six-Party Talks and to reaffirm the goal of fully implementing the September 2005 Joint Statement.

In my discussions with the DPRK officials, I communicated President Obama's view that complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a fundamental undertaking of the Six-Party process. I also conveyed to them that the absence of progress on denuclearization is an obstacle to improving our relations or realizing other important goals of the 2005 Joint Statement.

It was very useful for us to have exchanged views in a candid and business-like way. We identified some common understandings on the need for, and the role of, the Six-Party Talks and the importance of implementation of the 2005 Joint Statement.

I believe that this visit and my conversations in Pyongyang were very useful, and we were able to exchange views in a candid and business-like fashion. We identified some common understandings and the need for and the role of the Six Party Talks and the need for, and the importance of implementation of the 2005 Joint Statement.

It remains to be seen when and how the DPRK will return to the Six-Party Talks. This is something that will require further consultations among all six of us. Nevertheless, as I said, there is common understanding with the DPRK on the need to implement the 2005 Joint Statement and to resume the Six-Party process.

It is important to point out that these were exploratory talks, not negotiations. It is certainly our hope, based on these discussions in Pyongyang, that the Six-Party Talks can resume expeditiously and that we can get back to the important work of denuclearization.

As President Obama has made clear, the United States is prepared to work with our allies and partners in the region to offer North Korea a different future. The path for North Korea to realize this future is to choose the door of dialogue in the Six-Party Talks and to take irreversible steps to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Thank you and I’d be happy to take a few questions.

QUESTION: (Korean) Thank you very much. My first question is, were you able to meet Chairman Kim Jong-il this time and did you carry President Obama’s letter on your visit to Pyongyang?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: We did not ask for, nor did we meet with, Chairman Kim Jong-il. We met with the officials that I indicated. As for a message to the North Koreans from President Obama, in effect, I am the message.

QUESTION: Jack Kim for Reuters. Did the North Koreans specifically say or tell you that they (inaudible) commitment to abide by the agreement they struck in September 2009? And what…

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: In September of 2005.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, 2005. And my second question is, what, if anything, did they say about the uranium enrichment program (inaudible)?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: As I indicated in my remarks, we and the DPRK did reaffirm to each other the central importance of the Joint Statement of 2005. And certainly from our point of view, we believe it’s important to get back to the work that was underway on that Joint Statement as soon as we possibly can. I’m sorry your second question was…

QUESTION: It was about their comments, if at all, on the uranium enrichment program.

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: No. We did not discuss that in any detail. Obviously I remarked upon the comments that they had already made with regard to uranium enrichment, and I think it’s clear that, when the talks resume, that that will be an important item on the agenda.

QUESTION: (Korean) North Korea has been requesting that before coming back to the Six Party Talks that a peace agreement on the Korean peninsula has to be concluded first. And also they have been asking for the normalization of diplomatic relations between North Korea and the United States. Did they ask for this and, if they did, what was your response?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: We discussed all of the elements of the September 2005 Statement. And, as we’re all aware, in that statement there is a commitment by all six parties to move ahead on a peace regime for the Korean peninsula to replace the armistice. I confirmed to them that the United States remains committed to the full implementation of the Joint Statement and all of the elements therein: the denuclearization, the establishment of a peace regime, normalization of relations among all of the parties concerned, and the provision of economic and energy assistance. So once we have been able to reconvene the Six-Party process and begin to gain significant traction on the issue of denuclearization, I would expect that we will all be prepared to discuss the evolution or the negotiation of a peace regime for the Korean peninsula.

QUESTION: Mr. Maeng from CBS News. North Korea is attempting to launch warheads on long-range ballistic missiles. If the resumption of the talks is postponed and North Korea buys time, don’t you think they would launch it before the talks are resumed? The second question would be: any message from North Korea about the possible summit talks between South and North Korea?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I simply reiterated to the North Koreans on your first point that it is essential that we reconvene the Six-Party process as soon as possible. And I think the message from the North Koreans is that, as I explained, they agree on the centrality of the Six-Party process and agree on the need to continue implementation of the Joint Statement.

QUESTION: Any message from North Korea about the possible summit talks between South and North Korea? (Inaudible.)

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: No, that subject did not come up.

QUESTION: (Korean) Was there any discussion on the additional meeting between the U.S. and North Korea? If there was, was there any discussion on the time and at what official level the meeting will take place?


NSC DEPUTY SPOKESMAN CHANG: Thank you very much, everyone. Thanks very much.

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Thank you, all. Good to see you.