Remarks to Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Glyn Davies
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Cho Tae-yong
Seoul, South Korea
September 10, 2013

AMBASSADOR CHO: [Translation of Korean] Good morning everyone. Special Representative Glyn Davies and I had a very serious and productive discussion on the issue of the denuclearization of North Korea. The ROK and the United States once again agreed that the denuclearization is a very important issue that we must resolve. Our two countries are open to resolving this issue through dialogue, and we share the opinion that the dialogue has to be meaningful so that it will lead to real progress in denuclearization. We also have a high assessment of the efforts by China, the chair of the Six-Party Talks. We will endeavor to achieve denuclearization - a goal that we share and must accomplish - through close consultations with others parties of the Six-Party Talks, including China. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Thank you very much, Ambassador Cho. The Ambassador and I have just had an excellent hour-long meeting talking about all aspects of the North Korea issue. I have nothing to add to Ambassador Cho’s characterization of the meeting. That is precisely what we discussed, and we reached some strong conclusions in support of the continued solidarity of the United States and the Republic of Korea in moving forward together on this issue.

As I said yesterday at the airport, this is our first stop on a three-nation visit to North Asia. As is usually our habit, we come first to Seoul, from here we will go on to Beijing for talks with the government there, and then finish up in Tokyo at the end of the week. I look forward this afternoon to discussions at the Unification Ministry and back here with the acting Foreign Minister Kim at MOFA. And of course, I will touch base with colleagues at U.S. Forces Korea as well before getting on a plane tonight and going on to Beijing.

So thank you again very much, Cho Tae-yong, Ambassador Cho, for your hospitality. I look forward to our luncheon meeting together and to taking one or two of your questions. Thank you.

QUESTION: So why is it so difficult to resume the Six-Party Talks, and what are the obstacles to resuming it?

AMBASSADOR CHO: That is to you, I think. It is in English.

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Oh, I am happy to take that on. Well, the obstacle to resuming Six-Party Talks remains very much that North Korea continues to assert its nuclear weapons status. You will recall that not so many months ago they declared the Six-Party process dead, and they said that they would not and would never negotiate on the subject of their nuclear weapons capability. So I do not believe the issue should be stated in the terms it so often is to the United States, and the ROK, and the other of the five parties, that, you know, “What is the problem? Why can’t you go back to talks?”

I think the issue should be, and this was well articulated by my colleague Assistant Secretary Russel during his visit, “What should North Korea be doing to re-establish a basis where Six-Party Talks could meaningfully take place?”

And right now, we simply do not see the positive attitude of North Korea toward fulfilling its obligations, its commitments, to living up to UN Security Council Resolutions, and we need to see that. We need to see some sign that they are sincere about what is the central issue of the Six-Party process, which is the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The last thing I will say is we remain open, of course, to dialogue with North Korea. As a diplomat, I would like very much to get back to that, but I think it is important that we only do so when the conditions are right, when North Korea has reversed the direction in which it has been moving for many months now, and when it re-embraces the centrality of denuclearization as the way forward.

AMBASSADOR CHO: [Translation of Korean] If I may add a few words, the key goal of the Six-Party Talks is denuclearization. North Korea, in the meantime, has declared that it is a nuclear state and has conducted nuclear tests. If we are to resume the Six-Party Talks, we need to once again make clear that we are gathering to achieve denuclearization and be sure that the Six-Party Talks will bring results for denuclearization. In this respect, I can say that not only the ROK and the United States but also countries like Japan, Russia, and China are basically of the same position.

QUESTION: [Translation of Korean] How would you measure North Korea’s authenticity?

AMBASSADOR CHO: [Translation of Korean] The September 19 Statement and agreements that were reached during the Six-Party Talks as well as the UN Security Council’s resolutions spell out what actions North Korea has to take. North Korea knows what it has to do. North Korea has to make the fundamental decision to give up its nuclear weapons and walk down the path toward peace. North Korea knows this well.

QUESTION: Mr. Davies, what’s your thoughts on –

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: May I simply add to that? Because first of all, I want to make sure that you know that I associate myself fully with what Ambassador Cho has just said, and I wish to underscore one point that he made earlier, which is that the quality of consultations, of discussions among the five parties really has never been better.

Our level of agreement is solid and strong and that, of course, is why we are having this consultation and why I am here in North Asia.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on the possibilities of holding informal talks between the Six-Party member nations?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, if you are referring to the Chinese proposal, the academic institution that is holding, I believe, a 1.5 meeting on September 18, we commend the Chinese, really, for holding this kind of a discussion, and look forward to hearing from the academics who will gather there to see whether there are any signs that North Korea is willing to reverse direction and come back towards us on the subject, on the question of denuclearization. So I am hoping that it can be an important contribution.

I do not think it is yet time, really, for the heads of delegations of the Six-Party process to get together because I do not believe that we yet have the conditions that Ambassador Cho has described for that purpose. But let’s hope that someday soon that consensus is achieved and we are able to go forward. Thank you very much.