Remarks to Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Glyn Davies
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Seoul, South Korea
May 21, 2012

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Hello everybody. [Pointing to audio recorders on the podium] My goodness, what a collection of machines that you have left here.

Thank you very much for taking time on such a beautiful day in Seoul to come and spend a couple of minutes with me. What I wanted to do very briefly is say a couple of words and then I am very happy to take your questions.

First off, today was an occasion to continue, on a trilateral basis, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the United States, our very close consultations that we have conducted for many years. Now I have been on the job since December of last year. This is my third trip to Seoul, and this is the second time this year that we have had trilateral consultations to talk about North Korea and about regional issues.

My visit to Seoul is the first stop on a three-nation trip in North Asia. I will go on tomorrow morning to Beijing, spend a little over a day there. And then I will go from there to Tokyo back to Washington on Friday. And of course the purpose of all three stops is to consult with, in this instance, allies and partners here in Seoul, and then when I go on to Beijing, to talk to the Chinese who are the chair of the Six-Party process, and to get their thinking about where we are. So today reflects the very close cooperation between the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan on North Korea. And it is a reflection, not just of our alliance relationship which is very important, but also our common interests and values across the Asia Pacific and the world.

I should say a quick word about those accompanying me. In addition to my colleague Ford Hart, Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks, along with us today is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jim Zumwalt, from the State Department, and Mr. Syd Seiler, who is the Director for Korea at the White House.

Let me just say a very quick word about the substance of the issues with North Korea and then I want to take your questions. We are obviously in a bit of an uncertain period with North Korea, after the very serious provocation of the launch on April 13 of the Taepyodong-2 missile. In reaction to that you saw that the world community acted very quickly, in a unanimous fashion, and in a very tough fashion, at the United Nations by issuing a unanimous Presidential statement that was followed up by additional sanction designations by the UN Security Council. And we are of course very interested in ensuring that at the level of the allies and at the level, importantly, of all five partners in the Six-Party process, that we have the same understanding, the same analysis of the situation; that we have talked about various contingencies; and we know how it is that we will react if there are future provocations.

It is very important that North Korea not miscalculate again and engage in any future provocations. And that is the main message that we are conveying to North Korea. We are united in our resolve to respond, not just the three allies, but Russia and China as well, if there are additional provocations. And we hope that North Korea does not miscalculate. We expect and hope that North Korea will make a different set of decisions; will cease devoting its resources to its nuclear missile program; will instead open up itself to the outside world; will make decisions that benefit the people of North Korea, rather than just the military, the nuclear, and the missile establishment, and will rejoin the world community. And that is the fundamental message that we are conveying.

So with that, let me stop, and I am very happy to try to answer any questions that you have. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Do you see any imminent signs of North Korea’s nuclear test?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I don’t have any particular word to convey to you about that. I mean, we all have followed the same information that you have seen, about what may or may not be going in North Korea to prepare for a nuclear test. I think it would be a serious miscalculation, a mistake, if North Korea were to engage in a nuclear test. This new regime in Pyongyang saw that the world community, the international community, was united in reacting to the missile launch on April 13. And so they know that if they engage in another provocation such as a nuclear test, they will once again be subject to a united action by the international community. And in fact part of what was said at the time of the Security Council deliberations about the missile launch, one of the conclusions that was reached was that we are unanimous, among all of us, that if there is a further provocation such as a nuclear test, that there will be a swift and sure reaction by the international community.

QUESTION: What kind of implied action do you have in mind if North Korea goes ahead with its provocation?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, I, you know, I am not going to sit here and play out what is going to happen. But I am certain that if there is a nuclear test, that you will find the Security Council once again coming together to debate and deliberate, and that there will be a swift and sure reaction from the Security Council should that occur. But beyond that, I don’t have anything specific for you other than the fact that by launching this missile, we have seen the reaction of the international community, and this should be a very strong signal to Pyongyang, that a further miscalculation will be met with similar united action by the world community.

QUESTION: Your two counterparts today said that they are ready for a different path with North Korea. What exactly would that mean? What are the details, and have you already communicated that to the North Koreans?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, this has been one of the main themes of our conversations with the North Koreans since we began our exploratory discussions with them last July in New York, followed on by Geneva and then of course by Beijing. We did a great deal of discussing of alternative futures for North Korea.

So we have explained to them -- and I think you know -- the United States has a dual track policy of engagement on the one hand but pressure on the other. That engagement aspect remains open. If they make the right choices, there can be a different future for North Korea and the people of North Korea. So they understand full well, and we discussed for many hours, in three different cities, on three different continents, over a period of seven or eight months, what those kinds of futures could be. So I think there should be no doubt in the minds of North Koreans that there is a different future that is available for them, if they make the right sorts of decisions; if they put their people first; if they stop spending their resources on developing missiles and nuclear weapons; if they open up to the rest of the world and engage in a positive fashion.

Instead, by miscalculating, by, you know, achieving a deal with the United States and then so soon after we announced it -- a mere two weeks later -- going back on their undertakings, they sent a signal that they cannot be trusted to follow through on their own undertakings and their own promises. So what we are saying to them is you should look at all the promises you have made over many, many years, and of course the centerpiece is the September 2005 Joint Statement, and you should begin to take action. Words are no longer, quite frankly, interesting to us. What we want to see is actions from North Korea. So they know what kinds of futures are available to them, if they step through that door to engagement and sincerely begin to take actions and fulfill the obligations that they themselves have made over many years.

Any other questions?

QUESTION: One question. Can you tell us about the details, the nature of the visit by the U.S. officials to Pyongyang? There have been some news reports that there was a visit by U.S. officials to Pyongyang, around the time that they launched, right before they launched the [unclear] . . .

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I don’t have anything for you on that.

QUESTION: Well, was there a trip, or you just can’t talk about it?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I am just not -- I don’t have anything for you. I understand you need to ask this question, but I cannot help you with . . . Yes?

QUESTION: What kind of things do you plan to talk about tomorrow in Beijing?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, I think I will be talking about the same sorts of things that we spoke about here, in our trilateral consultations. I have had a very good, in depth dialogue with Wu Dawei, who is the senior Chinese official dealing day to day with North Korean issues. So I will come back to the conversations that I had with him in December, that I had with him in February on the margins of our negotiations with the North Koreans. And we will talk about how can continue to cooperate, collaborate, and send unified signals to North Korea about its choices, and about the need for North Korea to follow through in a positive fashion and take action based on the promises that it has made, the obligations that it has pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions. So I look forward to that.

And I should also say that after Beijing, I will go on to Tokyo, because I think it is very important that when we come to this part of the world, that we visit the key capitals. And so I want to stop through Tokyo as well and talk to officials there about these same issues. So, of course, participating in these very excellent discussions today, chaired by Ambassador Lim Sung-nam, was Shinsuke Sugiyama, Director General from the MFA. But I will see him in Tokyo as well as call on other officials in Tokyo.

That is about all I’ve got. It is a beautiful day out there. I would highly recommend, if your editors will let you do it, you take the rest of the day off. Go out and take your kids, go to the zoo, have a great time. Seoul is a beautiful city, and it is a beautiful day. And it is wonderful to be here. Thank you very, very much for meeting with me and I hope to see you again soon when I come back to South Korea. Thanks again. Thanks very much. Bye bye.