Remarks to the Press Upon Departure From Seoul
Special Representative for North Korea Policy
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Good morning. We have had very useful conversations here in Seoul. We met with Ambassador Wi Sung-lac, the South Korean Special Representative for the Six-Party Talks. We met with Ambassador Kim, the National Security Advisor, and we met, of course, also this morning with the Minister of Unification [Hyun In-Taek].
I think as has been the case throughout recent years, we continue to coordinate very closely, the U.S. and the Government of South Korea, on the question, the key questions of how to deal with North Korea, and how to deal with the process and substance of the Six-Party Talks. I think we are agreed that from our point of view we are ready to resume substantive work on the Six-Party Talks as soon as that process can be reactivated. There is no higher priority in our view than getting back to the negotiating table and resuming progress toward the key goal of denuclearization. We are also prepared to initiate work on the other issues and matters that were set forth in the Joint Statement of September 2005, and those too are important items that we want to initiate work on them.
When I was in North Korea in early December, as I reported after that visit, we and the DPRK had agreed on the central role of the Six-Party Talks, and had agreed on the vital importance of the Joint Statement of September 2005. The only thing that has not yet been agreed is where and when the Six-Party Talks will resume, but I think we, the United States -- and I think I can speak here for the Republic of Korea as well -- are convinced that the Six-Party Talks will eventually resume, but it is not possible now to speculate as to when that might occur; hopefully in the relatively near future.
We leave from here this morning to go to Tokyo where we will complete this round of consultations. We will be consulting with Russia via telephone and through Embassies. We were not able to schedule a visit to Russia on this particular trip. So, we are looking forward to being in Tokyo and continuing our close consultations there. We are very gratified by the reception we received here, and believe that as has been the case in the past, it is essential that the United States and Republic of Korea maintain the closest possible coordination as we deal with these very important issues.
I would note that, in fact, later today, Eastern Standard Time, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be meeting in Washington and I think they will continue to discuss the questions that we have addressed here today.
So I will take one or two questions. Thank you. Yes.
QUESTION: Are you willing to have direct bilateral talks with the DPRK once more if she [North Korea] promises to come back to the Six-Party Talks?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, that depends on the nature of what happens afterwards. We have said that we are not philosophically opposed to further bilateral contacts with the DPRK, but only within the framework of the Six-Party Talks, and we must be confident that it will in fact lead to a prompt resumption of the Six-Party Process. But I am not going to speculate today as to when or whether we would entertain that. That is a subject that we are, we will be discussing with our partners.
QUESTION: You said that there are many items from the 2005 Joint Statement that you want to pursue. Does that include beginning talks on a peace treaty, and does that mean to offer North Korea that it could, such discussions could take place as soon as the Six-Party Talks resume?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, what we have said is that obviously all parties are committed to working on the topics that are set forth in the Joint Statement, and first and foremost among those, of course, is denuclearization. But we also recognize that it will be important to begin discussions on questions regarding the peace treaty, establishment of diplomatic relations, and the issues of economic and energy assistance to North Korea. And, we are prepared to do that in the normal course of events once we have come back in the Six-Party Process, and once we have begun to make some significant progress once again on denuclearization.
One last question.
QUESTION: Did you see, did you find a kind of positive side from the DPRK with regard to rejoining the Six-Party Talks after [inaudible] recent visit to the DPRK?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, we did not have direct contacts with the DPRK in, from Beijing.
QUESTION: But did it go through China?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I think China has been working hard to, as the Chair of the Six-Party Process, to bring about an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks, and obviously as we all know they have had a number of contacts with the DPRK. But I am not going to try to speculate or comment on the results of those contacts, only to say that we remain of the view that we are prepared to come back to the Six-Party Process as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Just one more here. We heard absolutely nothing about an American detained in North Korea since Robert Park. Do you know anything about this person?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I am really not able to comment on that. I would suggest that you direct yourself to the Bureau of Consular Affairs in the State Department. For various reasons, legal and other, I am not able to get into those questions.
Thank you all very much. I look forward very much to my next visit to Seoul.