Remarks by Special Representative Davies in Beijing, China

Glyn Davies
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Westin Hotel
Beijing, China
December 15, 2011

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Hello, everybody. Thank you very much for coming out. First of all, a mea culpa. When I came here, I made a statement but didn't take questions, and I should have, and I will do better next time. But let me start off by saying just a couple of things about our visit here to Beijing. We had a very good set of meetings. I met with with the Foreign Minister, I met with Vice Minister Yu, and of course I had a meeting and a dinner with my counterpart, Special Representative Ambassador Wu Dawei, and we met with his deputy, Xu Bu. I want to thank them very much for their hospitality. We exchanged views on a wide range of issues relating to North Korea, and we talked about how to carry forward the pledge that both of our Presidents made in their January Joint Statement. They pledged at that time to work closely to promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, they emphasized the importance of North-South dialogue, they discussed the crucial importance of denuclearization and in that context at that time, at the beginning of this year, they expressed concern regarding the DPRK's claimed uranium enrichment program. I would also like to add that the United States appreciates very much China's role in reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and their central role in the Six-Party Talks.

This stop in Beijing is the final stop on a three-city visit to North Asia. We began, of course, in Seoul, went on to Tokyo, and then came here to Beijing. We believe that the very good and in-depth discussions that we have had around the Northeast Asian region give us a good basis for understanding what we need to do to achieve the goals of the Six-Party Talks, and primarily that is, of course, achieving a stable and peaceful Korean Peninsula, free of nuclear weapons. Now I will head back to Washington to report. I would like to once again thank very much my colleagues who came with me on this seven -day trip to North Asia: Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks, Ford Hart, Director Syd Seiler of the National Security Staff at the White House, and our colleague from the East Asia Pacific Bureau of the State Department, Desk Officer Mary Beth Polley, who kept us all pointed in the right direction and on schedule. And I'd like to say a special thank-you to Ambassador Gary Locke and to his team at the United States Embassy. And then, finally, I'd like to thank all of you for coming out, and this time, I look forward to taking your questions. So over to you -- whatever you have.

QUESTION: Mr. Davies, you said that you were going to meet with progress. Have you made any progress by talking to Chinese officials this time?

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Oh, I think so. I think we've made a great deal of progress. We made progress in Seoul, we made progress in Tokyo, and here in Beijing, in ensuring that we have an ever closer appreciation for and understanding of the challenges that face us. So this for me as my first trip as Special Representative was exceedingly useful. I've learned a great deal, and we've been able to talk about really all aspects of the challenge of North Korean nuclearization, and I look forward very much to carrying forward this work, and to coming back to the region, I hope, soon. Thank you.

QUESTION: AFP, could you offer us any specifics on what preconditions North Korea may be still discussing through the Chinese at your talks?

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Well, I don't... I would leave it to the PRC, to China, to try and discuss and describe their dialogue with the North. I've made the point that we appreciate very much the work that they do to ensure peace and stability on the peninsula. What I was talking with the Chinese government about here today was where we are, the United States, in our exploratory discussions with North Korea -- we've had now two bilateral meetings with them, and we talked about what it is we need to see in order to get back to a third discussion. And then we went on to talk a bit about how we might successfully get back to the table at Diaoyutai in the Six-Party Talks, and more importantly even that that, how we can come out of Diaoyutai with the right sort of outcomes and solutions, so that we don't find ourselves in a situation similar to what we've had before, where we've gone into talks, and they haven't ultimately borne fruit. We'd like this round, if we can get to it eventually, to be different.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what you asked for in order to get to that third round?

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Well, what I'd like to do is stay away from getting into the precise diplomatic discussions we've had with our partners. I think everybody here, I think all of you who know the issues, know what it is we're looking for from North Korea. We need them to change their behavior, in essence, to cease their provocative actions, and we need them to live up to their obligations under the 2005 Joint Statement, and also to meet the obligations imposed upon them by the United Nations Security Council in the two relevant resolutions, and then finally, we would like North Korea to abide by its commitments under the Armistice Agreement. So those are the basics of what it is we're looking for from North Korea.

QUESTION: Ambassador, once conditions for nutritional assistance will be agreed here in Beijing, when and where do you expect the third round of North Korean - U.S. talks to be held -- when and where third round of talks will be held?

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: On the third round of talks -- I don't want to get ahead of myself, maybe I will get a crystal ball for Christmas, but I don't have one yet, and so I can't predict the future, and as I said before, the ball is very much in North Korea's court, as we say, to provide the right signals and to set the right conditions so that we can get back to, potentially, a third round of bilateral discussions and then perhaps out of that we might be able to look forward to Six-Party Talks, but that gets me ahead of where we are right now. We're taking this one step at a time. We have today, beginning today in Beijing these nutritional assistance talks with representatives of the DPRK government. We hope those go well over the next couple of days. We'll see what comes out of that. I have to go back to Washington, I have to report to the Secretary of State. I think I will have a chance to see her on Monday, and discuss matters with other officials in the United States government, and from there we'll see where we head, and what the pacing might be, where these meetings could happen, if they happen, and all of that, but that's for the future, and maybe Santa Claus will give me a crystal ball, and I'll be able to predict the future the next time we have a press conference, but right now that's all I can tell you.

QUESTION: Will there be any new policies towards North Korea since you're new and...?

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Well, that's actually a very good question, I like that question, because it gives me a chance to say that even though I am new in my job, and I have only been actively at it for a couple of weeks, there really is no change in America's policy. We follow a very consistent policy on North Korea issues for quite a long time and I think that's a strength because that is also true of the other members of the Six-Party process. Right now what we need to do - I think all of us working together, particularly the five - is ensure that we have the same appreciation for what's at stake and the same appreciation for the next steps that need to be taken if we have the opportunity to get back to Six-Party Talks.

QUESTION: Does the Ambassador King and Li Gun's talks affect the nuclear talks in the future?

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Here's what I'd say about that: the short answer is there isn't any linkage between this issue of the provision of nutritional assistance to North Korea and this broader discussion that we hope to have with the North at the right time if they do the right thing on these issues relating to denuclearization. But I will say that we are, of course, paying close attention to how these talks on nutritional assistance go. We're looking for the North to engage in those discussions in good faith. There's no reason these talks need to be long and protracted and drawn out. The issues are relatively straightforward, and we'll be watching that, but that, that's about the extent to which I would say there is any read-across, or cross-over here. Our basic policy on nutritional assistance I think you know very well. It's based on our assessment of the needs of the populations in North Korea, it's based on, quite frankly, the competing needs of populations around the world to which we provide assistance, and it's importantly, and here we get to what is being discussed here today and tomorrow in Beijing, it gets to what we call the modalities for providing this assistance, because we need the right degree of cooperation from Pyongyang, from the government there. We need the right degree of access for our people, and we need to ensure that this nutritional assistance goes to the populations that need it, the populations identified by the World Food Program, by the United Nations. Valerie Amos has had discussions with us recently, and we have a good idea of what's needed for the undernourished populations in North Korea. So this should not be a difficult set of discussions on nutritional assistance and we'll be watching what the North brings to the table and how well those discussions go.

QUESTION: Has the North given us the correct set of signals for the resumption of (inaudible)

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Well, we've been going back and forth with North Korea, obviously, we've had these two sets of exploratory discussions most recently in Geneva in late October. I would describe it as a work in progress, and as my predecessor, Ambassador Steven Bosworth said in Geneva in late October, we were able to make to make a little bit of progress there, but we weren't able to achieve everything that we needed to achieve in order to get back to a third round of discussions and from there, ultimately, to get to Six-Parties. So, that's really where we stand. It's up to North Korea, the ball's in their court, we need them to provide the right assurances, the right signals, at which point, and it could be at some point soon, I'm not certain, no crystal ball, we'll be able to get back to them for a third round.

Another question, anybody else?

QUESTION: When and what conditions to restart the Six-Party Talks? Predict?

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Well, talking about that gets me a little bit ahead of where we are right now, because where we are right now is trying to complete this process of exploring with the North whether they are ready to take the right steps so that we can then, in a next phase, if we get beyond this, have intensive consultations among our partners in the Six-Party process. And only after that, I think, would we be in a position to get back to Six-Party Talks, so that's really where we are.

I would ask you all to stay tuned, I would thank you all very much for coming out, again, apologies when I came, for not giving you a chance to ask questions, that's not my style, I won't repeat the error. I look forward very much to coming back - I hope soon - to North Asia and to getting to know all of you a lot better.

So thanks so much, see you again perhaps next time in Beijing and isn't this sunshine wonderful? There's a lot of wind. I appreciate that very much...