Remarks to the Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Ambassador Glyn Davies
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Lim Sung Nam, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs
Seoul, South Korea
December 8, 2011

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM (VIA INTERPRETER): Today I had about two hours of in-depth and useful discussions with Ambassador Davies, and through today’s consultations we confirmed, we shared assessments on the current situation of the North Korean nuclear issue and we discussed how we should go forward with regard to our joint efforts in responding to this North Korean issue. And also, the two sides confirmed that in peacefully resolving the North Korean nuclear issue the most important asset for the two countries is our close coordination and cooperation.

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Thank you very much, Ambassador. It is a delight for me to be here in Seoul, South Korea, in my new position as Special Representative for North Korea. This is the first stop of three stops that I will make over eight or nine days in North Asia. From here I go to Tokyo, and then to Beijing. Ambassador Lim has explained the purpose of our discussions here, our consultations, to talk about the challenges that we face in coordinating our efforts in dealing with the DPRK and the many issues that relate to the DPRK. I want to say that from the standpoint of the United States, the relationship between the United States and the Republic of Korea, the alliance that we have, is the fundamental bedrock of our approach on North Korea. And that is why this is my very first stop, and the very first conversations that I’m having are with Ambassador Lim. I think it’s very important to emphasize that in our dealings on this issue, in particular with the DPRK, we stress to them the importance of the North-South dialogue. It is an essential element of our approach on the DPRK. It’s essential, we believe, that that dialogue be robust in order for us to move forward. And we hope very much that the DPRK is able to come back to the table, send the right signals in advance of any further steps that they are prepared to fulfill their obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions and under the 2005 Joint Agreement. So with that, I’m very happy to take your questions. Thank you.

QUESTION (VIA SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM’S INTERPRETER): The question was: Comparing North Korea’s position on the UEP, the uranium enrichment program right after the U.S.-DPRK talks in October and as of now, is there a different between their positions? And the second question was: North Korea is asserting that their purpose of their uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes and for electricity production, and they’re saying that it’s an issue of sovereignty. However, Korea and the U.S. are saying that this is a violation of the UN Security Council Resolutions and it’s a violation of the Joint Statement in [2005]. So the difference in their positions is very big. Is there a possibility that we could find a common area to go for the next round of the talks?

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM (VIA INTERPRETER): With regard to the UEP of North Korea, Korea and the U.S. have been emphasizing to North Korea that it is important for them to take actions in the right direction according to the September 19 Joint Statement of 2005 and the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and I am pretty sure that they will, they understand pretty clearly our positions, and I hope in the near future they will take the right actions in the near future.

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Is that also directed at me? Or no?

QUESTION: Has North Korea indicated any change in its position through the New York channel, and if so, when and where do you expect another round of later talks with North Korea to take place? And will they come after another round of inter-Korean talks as before?

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Do you want to translate that? (Translation.) We have had two sets of exploratory talks with North Korea, the most recent in Geneva a few weeks ago, and the purpose of those talks is to ascertain, to determine whether or not the DPRK is willing to fulfill its obligations under the 2005 Joint Statement and under the Security Council Resolutions. We are looking for a signal of seriousness of purpose that they are ready to do that. Those contacts with the North Koreans continue. I hope at some point in the not-too-distant future we will have an opportunity to get back to the table with them. But quite frankly, we are not interested in talks for talk’s sake. They need to come to us, they need to indicate to us that they are prepared to take concrete steps to make it worth our while to get back into the Six-Party process. And in terms of the issue of sequencing, which I think is part of the question that you raised, we are emphasizing to the North, as I said in my opening statement, the importance to us of North-South dialogue. That is an essential element of our ability to get back to the Six-Party Talks eventually. In addition to all of the things I outlined that it’s important that North Korea do, part of that process is that we need to see that there is the appropriate sort of engagement between North and South Korea. And so this is something that we will continue to emphasize to the DPRK and we certainly hope that the contacts between the DPRK and the ROK continue.

QUESTION: Reports are resurfacing about concern regarding the state of development of North Korea’s mobile ICBMs. I was wondering if both of you could address this and tell us whether you believe that is there any less of a concern about the delivery systems as the nuclear weapons themselves at this stage now?

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM (VIA INTERPRETER): It is clear that North Korea’s missile program is also a big threat to the security of the Northeast Asian region. However, I don’t think it is appropriate to comment on what you said, intel things such as what you have just mentioned.

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: And if I could simply add to that, number one, my complete agreement with what Ambassador Lim said. He’s precisely correct. And number two, what’s important to remember is that the DPRK has made promises, has made undertakings, and they’ve done it in several forms, mostly importantly, in terms of what the international community has asked of them in the form of the Security Council resolutions. Part of what those resolutions address is, of course, this issue of their missile capability, so it’s very important that they take those responsibilities and undertakings seriously and follow through on them.

QUESTION (VIA SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM’S INTERPRETER): The question is: In today’s discussion, was there any exchange of ideas about the food assistance to North Korea? And if there is no suspension of the UEP, uranium enrichment program, is there no food aid? Is that how it’s going to go?

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM (VIA INTERPRETER): I’m sure Ambassador Davies will elaborate a little bit more on the position of the U.S. Government. However, we did talk about many situations of North Korea right now, and however, as I understand it, the position of the U.S. government is that humanitarian issues are separate from all the political considerations.

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: That is exactly correct. We discussed every aspect of the challenge that we face together on North Korea. Of course, we touched upon the question of nutritional assistance and it is the policy of the United States, as Ambassador Lim said, that we do not link humanitarian assistance to these other questions that relate to peace and security on the Korean peninsula.