Remarks in Seoul, Republic of Korea

Sydney A. Seiler
Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Seoul, South Korea
July 27, 2015

SPECIAL ENVOY SEILER: Thank you all for coming today. I’m pleased to be back here in the Republic of Korea as part of our ongoing efforts to seek a way back to authentic and credible negotiations leading to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. I just finished some very valuable meetings with my counterparts in the Republic of Korea government to include Director General Kim Gunn, and of course his boss and the lead senior representative for this issue in the Republic of Korea, Ambassador Hwang Joon-kook. It’s particularly auspicious to come here on July 27th, the anniversary of the Armistice Agreement, marking some 62 years of a close alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea ensuring peace and stability on the Peninsula. Part of those 62 years has been close coordination on a range of issues, in particular over the past several years on this issue of the denuclearization of the DPRK. I’ll cut my comments short, other than to say we continue to have very close and productive cooperation. My talks today were extremely fruitful in that regard and I invite some questions from you on this issue.

QUESTION: Is there any outlook for dialogue with the North Korean delegation on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum next month?

SPECIAL ENVOY SEILER: You know, we have long been open to dialogue with the DPRK. And we have made quite clear to the DPRK that we are willing to engage in discussions on a range of issues. I can’t speak to the possibilities for any contacts in the near future. Unfortunately we are in this protracted period where the DPRK has been reluctant to engage in dialogue with us. I know that’s been equally frustrating for the Republic of Korea as you’ve worked so hard to try to get inter-Korean dialogue going. It’s been frustrating for the other Six-Party Talks members, who sought to bring the DPRK back to meaningful negotiations.

QUESTION: Mr. Seiler, James Pearson, Reuters, you say there has been a protracted era with seemingly no progress. Have you managed to make any progress [inaudible]?

SPECIAL ENVOY SEILER: Well, I think we continue to express our openness to dialogue. I think the recent progress in our efforts at denuclearization with Iran provides an excellent example of the U.S. flexibility and willingness to engage with countries with whom we’ve had long-standing differences. We remain committed to dialogue and negotiated settlement to this issue. And that the door is open to the DPRK when their leadership makes the decision that it wants to break out of its diplomatic isolation, it wants to break out of its economic isolation, and take a path different to what they have until now.

QUESTION: Do you think there is a fresh momentum to deal with the North Korean issue because of the Iran nuclear deal?

SPECIAL ENVOY SEILER: I think that is a question that is ultimately best directed towards the DPRK. Again, the Iran deal demonstrates the value and the possibilities that negotiations bring. It demonstrates again our willingness when we have a willing counterpart. It demonstrates our flexibility when the DPRK makes the decision that it wants to choose a different path. So that question is really one for Pyongyang more than it is for us, because we have always stood ready to engage in dialogue on this issue.

QUESTION: Jay Kwaak, Wall Street Journal. Are you considering any fresh incentives or measures of pressure on North Korea in order to bring them back to dialogue?

SPECIAL ENVOY SEILER: Well, I don’t really want to get into the details of our diplomacy. I would continue to say that we have had a two-track approach that seeks negotiations as possible and pressure as necessary. Pressure is a key component, not only of convincing the leadership of the DPRK of the need to return to negotiations but also to do what we can as an international community to impede the growth of the DPRK program, to inflict a cost for its unwillingness to negotiate. And indeed to create the conditions necessary for resumed authentic and credible negotiations. I think what you will find is a consistency to our approach, a consistency to our policy, that includes a consistency to our openness, to dialogue as the opportunities present themselves, and a consistency to take the measures that we find to be important to counter the DPRK and its nuclear program.

QUESTION: What kind of efforts does the US government and Korean government want from the Chinese side and what will be the main subject for your trip to China?

SPECIAL ENVOY SEILER: I look forward to my visit to Beijing. I’ll be meeting with my new counterpart there. China, of course, was a close partner in our efforts towards concluding the agreement with Iran. China’s been a long time partner as we come upon the 10th anniversary of the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement. As the host of the Six-Party Talks. As a country with a unique relationship with the DPRK. So, we will continue to have the same type of discussions that we’ve had with the government of China to date. They’ve been a good partner until now and we will continue to explore the lessons learned, as it were, from our experience in negotiations on the Iran deal. And see what we can do to apply those lessons to bring the DPRK back to the negotiating table.

Thank you.