Background Briefing on Secretary Kerry's Trip to Republic of Korea, China, and Indonesia
MODERATOR: (In progress) China and Indonesia, if that works. And we’ll start out with Senior State Department Official Number One. We have Senior Administration Official Number One and Senior State Department Official Number Two. So we have lots of special guests with us today, but let me turn it over to you, Senior State Department Official Number One.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Great. Thank you very much. I’ll try to talk so that you can hear me. Let me start with a quick overview. This is Secretary Kerry’s fifth trip to Asia in the space of his first year in office. I don’t think there are many precedents for that level of direct engagement in the Asia Pacific, and I think it is one of the proof points of the continued focus of the Obama Administration on the region as a strategic priority.
Secondly, this trip number five and beyond are part of a continuum of high-level engagement that includes, of course, specifically with Korea and with China and with Indonesia, the destinations on this visit, but also include the Secretary’s engagement with the Japanese foreign minister, who was in Washington for consultations on Friday, as well as his October visit to Tokyo with Defense Secretary Hagel. It also includes the recent visit to Northeast Asia by Vice President Biden as well as that just last month of Deputy Secretary Burns. Going forward, of course, there’s considerably more travel at the presidential and at the cabinet level.
This is also part of the broader rebalance in the sense that the Secretary will engage across the spectrum of security issues, economic issues, climate, energy, environment; the hard power as well as the soft power agenda.
So his meetings begin on Thursday in Seoul, where he will meet first with President Park Geun-hye and then meet with Foreign Minister Yun. The Secretary’s focus is on close coordination on North Korea. He will reaffirm our alliance commitments as well as our resolve to work closely together with the Republic of Korea to promote denuclearization and to maintain deterrence. I expect the Korean side will share with him an update on the state of inter-Korean relations, including their efforts on family reunion and other humanitarian measures. And more broadly, it’s a chance for the U.S. and the ROK to remain closely synchronized in advance of the Secretary’s conversations the following day in Beijing.
I know that the Secretary will work on bilateral security as well as bilateral economic and trade issues, and expect that they will also discuss trilateral coordination with Japan, including and particularly on North Korea, but also discuss the state of bilateral relations between Japan and Korea. The Secretary’s strong view is that tensions between these two great democracies, between these important economies, and between these close friends and partners of the United States in Asia serve nobody’s interests. Secretary Kerry is not in Seoul to broker a deal or to mediate, but as he did on Friday in his conversations with Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida, he will certainly encourage his counterparts to make best efforts by all available means to effectively manage tensions and to ensure continued and enhanced cooperation.
On Friday, the Secretary proceeds to Beijing for meetings with Foreign Minister Wang, State Councilor Yang, who is Secretary Kerry’s counterpart in the Strategic Economic – Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and he will also have meetings with senior Chinese leaders. There is a very full agenda with China covering global, regional, and bilateral issues. And as I said at the outset, this – these conversations are part of a continuum of dialogue with the Chinese on how we can enhance practical cooperation in areas that genuinely matter to our people and to the world at the same time that we are dealing directly, candidly, and effectively on areas of difference and disagreement.
North Korea and issues of climate change, including the environment, are high on Secretary Kerry’s agenda in China. At the same time, he will discuss important issues such as maritime disputes, such as Syria and Iran, and as he always does, raise U.S. concerns regarding human rights and press freedoms. In the bilateral context, of course, we have important economic and trade-related issues, including the issue of cyber – specifically cyber-enabled economic theft, which is a regular item on our agenda.
On North Korea, the way that you might want to think about the issue is that we are embarked in an effort to translate denuclearization from a noun to a verb. The Secretary believes strongly that the North Korean nuclear threat is not a problem that we can all admire from a distance. What he seeks to do is to enlist greater and greater levels of Chinese cooperation in actually helping to achieve the goal of denuclearization, not just talking about it. So he will discuss with the Chinese what more we can do together, what more we can do as the five of the Six Party Talks, and what more China can do, given its unique set of ties and leverage with North Korea. What we’re trying to achieve is an effect, an effect in which North Korea takes real and meaningful steps in the direction we are asking it to go, and demonstrate that it’s prepared to negotiate denuclearization, not merely to posture.
In the second area, climate change, the Secretary is convinced that this is a critical area for cooperation between the U.S. and China, particularly given that we are the world’s two largest emitters of carbon. He will want to discuss both practical steps that we can take as well as ways that the U.S. and China can effectively cooperate as part of the global effort. When the Secretary visited China of April of 2013, he launched the High Level Climate Change Working Group, and followed up that at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in July with a meeting in which we began intensified work on five important lines of effort. So in his meetings in Beijing this time, the Secretary will certainly push forward on progress in all of these climate-related areas.
Lastly, we go on to Jakarta. We’ll arrive on Sunday and be there for meetings on Monday as well. Indonesia is a major actor in Southeast Asia, and Southeast Asia is a vitally important region, part of the Asia Pacific region, in terms of the U.S. focus and the U.S. rebalance. We have an important bilateral relationship with Indonesia. The Secretary was in Indonesia, in Bali, in October, of course, for APEC and related meetings, and had an opportunity for a bilateral meeting with President Yudhoyono. But this was – will allow him to engage more directly and more intensively on our bilateral efforts and our bilateral programs. Specifically, he will co-host with the foreign minister an annual meeting of our joint commission. This is an ongoing mechanism that brings together representatives and government stakeholders in a wide range of areas through the forum of working groups, as part of the joint commission on things like climate and democracy, trade and investment, energy and education. This is a key part of our bilateral cooperative partnership.
So the Secretary in Jakarta will begin with a working dinner with Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa with whom he has formed a very close relationship. Indonesia in general, President Yudhoyono, and specifically Foreign Minister Natalegawa have exercised and have continued to exercise important influence and leadership within ASEAN and on some of the difficult issues that ASEAN are grappling with, like the South China Sea.
Secretary Kerry will meet again with President Yudhoyono to talk about not just bilateral but also regional and global issues. And he’ll also have a chance to meet both Secretary General of the ASEAN Secretariat that is housed in Jakarta, Secretary General Minh.
While he is in Indonesia, I expect Secretary Kerry to have an opportunity to speak publicly on climate change, in part because this is an issue so high on the agenda of the United States, of Indonesia, and of the region; in part because he will he have had very substantive discussions with the Chinese on climate; and in part because Indonesia, as an archipelago with 17,000 islands, is both vulnerable to and highly focused on the threat that climate change poses to itself and its neighbors.
So let me stop there and see what other comments my colleagues may have.
QUESTION: All right. Hello? Can I be heard? A question about the Secretary’s appeal to the Chinese regarding North Korea: Have the Chinese responded to that so far? Has there been any specific action from China in response?
And second of all I wonder, do you have any concern that the absence of Kim Jong-un’s uncle now, who was an intermediary for the Chinese, whether that will make communication more difficult?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: The question is the degree of responsiveness the Chinese have shown to the Secretary’s importuning and argumentation on North Korea and the extent to which it is a handicap for the Chinese to be bereft of Jang Song-thaek, Kim Jong-un’s lamented uncle ,who, per the question, served a role as an intermediary.
I personally have been present at most if not all of Secretary Kerry’s engagements with Chinese officials on North Korea and can personally attest from experience to the intensity and the effectiveness of his representations. The conversation that he will have in China is building on a very solid foundation of explaining the U.S. perspective, of explaining the threat that North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear capability presents to U.S. interests and those of our allies and partners, but also a clear articulation of the objectives that the U.S. holds in terms of helping to create a stable, secure, and prosperous region in which the Korea Peninsula is a net contributor and not a major liability.
I think that – although I obviously won’t speak for the Chinese – that the Secretary gets a good hearing and a good response. I can’t attribute to the Secretary all of the steps – each of the steps that China has taken over the previous months to signal to North Korea the intensity of its interest in seeing North Korea take steps to end its nuclear program and to denuclearize. But I certainly am of the view that Secretary Kerry’s clear articulation of the stakes of the U.S. position and of the importance of this issue in terms of U.S.-China cooperation have had a significant effect.
On the subject of Jang Song-thaek, no analyst that I have heard is of the opinion that Jang Song-thaek was the premier conduit through which the Chinese communicated to North Korea. However, I think there is a widely held view among analysts that the purge of the number two in the Chinese system and the brutality manifested in that purge – excuse me, in the North Korean system --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: -- is evidence of weakness not of strength, and is the source of concern to all of North Korea’s neighbors, frankly, as well as to the international community.
The type of policies that the North Korean leadership claims to want to pursue, in other words a growing and strengthening economic capability, are utterly incompatible with both a nuclear program and with the kind of personnel management that was reflected in the purge of Jang Song-thaek.
QUESTION: Thank you. Can I ask – excuse me. In the conversations you’re going to have in China, I noticed last week in the testimony that [you] had up on the Hill and also after Secretary Kerry’s remarks with the Japanese foreign minister last week that you both – that you’re asking Beijing to clarify its stand on its territory ambitions. What exactly are you expecting or hoping that they will say to you? And will you be pressing them on the ADIZ that they’ve declared already in East China Sea? And what is your understanding of what they want to do in the South China Sea, as regards an ADIZ? Thank you.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I think there are two sets of issues with respect to international concerns, certainly U.S. concerns, regarding China and the maritime issue. One set of concerns pertains to China’s behavior. Our consistent and clear position is that these issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime sovereignty must be dealt with through peaceful diplomacy, through non-coercive means, and in a manner that is consistent with stability, reduction of tensions, international law, and the principles such as unimpeded lawful commerce and freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight.
The second category – the second area of concern, above and beyond the actual behavior of claimants, including China, is the character and the manner of their claims, the manner in which they pursue their claims. So in terms of substance, as the Secretary and other officials have made clear, and as I made clear in my testimony, while we don’t take a position on the validity of the sovereignty claims themselves by China or by other claimants, we do see an urgent need for the claimants to clarify their claims and to clarify their claims in a manner that is consistent with international law. Our position is that the claims themselves must align with international law, including and particularly the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The reason for that is that ambiguity about claims generates uncertainty and raises risk. And it’s for that reason that we believe that there is much more to be done by all the claimants, including and particularly China, to clarify and to ensure that their claims are brought into alignment with accepted principles of international law.
With respect to the ADIZ, I don’t think that the U.S. could have been clearer or more consistent than we have been since hours after the abrupt and uncoordinated Chinese pronouncement. So while the Secretary doesn’t have much to – if anything – to add substantively to our position, he surely has an opportunity to discuss with the Chinese and to reinforce the point that it is unwise in the extreme for China to take actions that are disruptive of stability in the region. China should do nothing to upend the status quo or to raise tensions and concerns, particularly with respect to statements early on, in which Chinese sources and officials intimated that there may be more to come by way of additional declarations of Chinese ADIZs in sensitive areas. Our consistent message is that would be unwise because it violates the principle of restraint and is incompatible with the advice that China should exercise caution so as not to raise tensions in the region.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFICIAL TWO: I would – can you hear me? I would just add that we are – we’re very concerned about rising tensions and threats to maritime security in East Asia, in particular in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. These are issues that are fundamental to American security interests in that part of the world. They’re issues that we will be raising in Seoul, in Beijing, and in Jakarta.
Of particular concern right now are incremental steps that China has taken in recent months to – in an attempt to establish its effective control over disputed territories and to undermine the administrative control of other territories. My State Department colleague, in his House Foreign Affairs Committee testimony last week, detailed some of those specific steps of concern.
What’s particularly important is that we come to agreement on some of the fundamental principles needed to lower tensions and to ensure peace and security in East Asia, because the East China Sea, the South China Sea, are major thoroughfares for global commerce and global energy supplies.
And of particular importance is an agreement that international law should be one of the guiding principles determining how countries address maritime disputes. And one very significant question that we have is how China’s nine-dash line claim is consistent with international law. My State Department colleague highlighted this in his recent testimony, and it’s an issue of active discussion. And I think we’d like to hear from Beijing about that. Thank you.
QUESTION: A small administrative question and then a follow-up question to Paul’s question. Secretary Kerry’s gone to the region five times. As I count it, this is his second visit as Secretary to Beijing and to Seoul, and he was last there in April. Is that right? And – so it’s his second visit to these two places.
And since he was there last, the American policy has been to seek – to induce China to use its influence with North Korea to constrain their nuclear program. But North Korea seems to moving on the plutonium front by reactivating the Yongbyon reactor. They’re moving to expand their program – their parallel program in terms of centrifuges and enriched uranium.
Can you point to a single thing that has led to a tangible constraint on the North Korean program since Secretary Kerry was there in April? In what respect has that program slowed or paused or halted, if at all, in – since you made the same entreaties last time? Thank you.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Mike, I think you’re factually correct, although I have one of the world’s worst memories. But if you’re not, we will fact-check the first part of your question for you.
The second, more substantive, question gets at the challenge of proving a negative: What is it that one could establish has not happened as a consequence either of Secretary Kerry’s diplomacy or of Chinese actions? I think the way to look at it is instead take a step back and acknowledge that unless and until North Korea has made the basic decision to come into compliance with its international obligations and its commitments by beginning a process of denuclearization through irreversible steps that have credibility in the eyes of certainly the other six party members, as well as the international community. Until and unless that happens, our efforts have not yet borne fruit. They are – there is still much more work to be done, and that’s where we are.
Taking that as both the goal and the starting point, the question then becomes: What more can be done, who can do what, and how do we operate together bilaterally and multilaterally to bring North Korea to that decision? It’s a decision the North Koreans need to make. My belief – and I think this is widely shared – is that it’s not the decision North Korea wants to make. It is a decision that they will make only by weighing the alternatives and reaching the conclusion that it is simply not viable to continue down the path of threatening its neighbors and threatening the international community.
Now, already it is fair to say that unlike in the past, North Korea has been unable to elicit benefits from the international community by virtue of its provocation, by virtue of its threats, by virtue of its nuclear and missile programs. That is not trivial but it is not enough. So the point that Secretary Kerry has made and I know intends to make to the Chinese is that as a nation with unique ties, including important economic and logistic trade and financial ties with North Korea, the proof is in the pudding. And if North Korea is, as you say, continuing to expand its plutonium, its uranium programs, it’s continuing to defy its international obligations, is continuing to make the wrong choices, then by definition the international community collectively, and China specifically, have not yet done enough.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me just add very quickly to that answer. It’s absolutely true that North Korea has done us in a sort of backhanded fashion the favor of making --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, can you hear me? North Korea has done us the backhanded favor of making explicitly plain over the last couple of years that it has no desire to denuclearize. We’ve seen the announcement of their so-called Pyongjin policy that elevates the pursuit of nuclear weapons to one of the two main aims of the state. We’ve seen them change their constitution. We’ve seen the nuclear threats.
This, I think, has helped clarify thinking not just in Washington and among the other states who form the five parties among the six parties, but also in Beijing. And so the quality of conversations that we’ve had with the Chinese, to my knowledge, has never been better on this. We’ve made a great deal of progress in narrowing differences, but it’s no secret that the United States and China do not have perfectly congruent sets of interests when it comes to North Korea. So it’s not the simplest of tasks to chart a way forward, but that’s the path that we’re embarked on.
QUESTION: Official Number One, in your opening comment you made a point of saying that North Korea and climate change would be high on the Secretary’s agenda in Beijing, but that he would also talk about the maritime disputes. One, should we deduce from that that the maritime disputes come sort of third on his list and the other two issues are higher up on his agenda?
Second, what kinds of consequences – what kinds of consequences, if any, might China face from continuing to pursue its territorial claims in the uncoordinated fashion that you’ve described and you find objectionable? One of your NSC colleagues was recently quoted as talking about if a second ADIZ was established that there could be a change in the U.S. military posture in the region. Is that something that is actively under discussion?
And then lastly, what do you specifically want to see China do on North Korea?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: You’ve exceeded my brain buffer there and I may have to come back to you to remind me of your multipoint question. But with regard to the first issue, I would be wary of allocating excessive significance to my formulas about top of the list and high priorities. These are hugely important issues. We have a very rich agenda with the Chinese, and I think it will be clear from the Secretary’s own public statements where his priorities are and what he was able to accomplish in this particular trip, which I remind you is one piece of a very extensive dialogue with the Chinese as well as one piece of a broader effort in terms of our engagement in the region.
The distinction that might have been reflected in what I said is this, that North Korea and climate change are two very significant areas of practical cooperation underway now at full bore. These are two areas where the U.S. and China working together to make a difference. And I can go on a little more about what we are trying to do and what the Secretary seeks to do on climate change.
The maritime issues in which the U.S. is not a claimant but the U.S. is a very, very significant actor and stakeholder in terms of regional security, in terms of regional prosperity, in terms of maintaining international sea lanes and freedom of navigation. That is an area in which we are making very clear to the Chinese both where we have problems with their behavior and where we have recommendations with respect to their approach.
That ties into your second question, and while I won’t treat it as a hypothetical question beginning with an if, I will say that we have consistently acted and spoken in a manner that can leave China in no doubt about the strength of our commitment to our allies and to our security partners. The actions, the policies, and the statements of the United States are unequivocal in terms of our firm commitment to maintaining freedom of the seas and freedom of the skies and to ensuring that countries in the region are operating on the basis of rules and not on the basis of might makes right. That is a guiding principle for us, and our planning on the military side as well as our broader policies reflect that.
And then thirdly, you asked on --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: -- North Korea
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, other than me trying to telegraph prescriptive formulas for China, I would draw you back to the point I sought to make earlier, which is the effect that we seek to have. We want cooperation and actions from China and with China that will have the net effect of bringing the North Korean leadership to the realization that the consequences for continuing on the dead-end path they are on, namely a path in pursuit of a nuclear missile capability, does not bring them security, does not bring them prosperity, and is simply not tenable. And we ask that China apply all of the tools at its disposal to bring North Korea to that realization.
QUESTION: Thank you. In Korea – South and North Korea had high-level talks. They are first in seven years. It’s quite a fast-moving development, I think. Are you comfortable with the speed and pace of their inter-Korean reconciliation or rapprochement? Thanks.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I know that the Secretary looks forward to hearing more directly from the leadership of the Republic of Korea about the current status of discussions and the overall state of inter-Korean relations. As a matter of policy and a matter of practice, the U.S. strongly supports improved North-South ties, and we welcome inter-Korean dialogue.
We hope that North Korea is sincere and that North Korea is cooperative in its discussions with the Republic of Korea. We are particularly concerned about and sympathetic to the plight of the separated families and certainly hope that the North Koreans will not pull back from previous agreements to allow separated families to be reunited, even briefly.
In a similar vein, with respect to humanitarian issues, we ourselves have been sorely disappointed at the North Korean decision to rescind its previous agreement for Ambassador Robert King to visit North Korea in the hopes of being able to bring Kenneth Bae, an American citizen in failing health, back to his family.
We very much hope that North Korea will listen to the voices in South Korea who are asking for compassion for your countrymen who want to have a chance to see their relatives and that they will listen to the voices of Americans and the international community who similarly are asking for compassion to be shown to Kenneth Bae.
QUESTION: You talked about how the purpose of this trip – regarding North Korea, you said you’re going to look at what more can be done to make sure that North Korea starts denuclearizing both bilaterally and multilaterally. Aside from seeking the effects of a pressure via China, what, from the U.S. perspective, are you seeking to do to push North Korea towards the goal of denuclearization? Can you talk a little bit more about what actions U.S. bilaterally can do regarding North Korea?
And second of all, the purge, do you – I mean, I know the DNI has commented on this, but from your perspective is that pretty much done and over with, or do you see remnants of that still happening? How stable is the regime, if you can comment? Thanks.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: To answer your second question first, which is how stable is the North Korean regime in the aftermath of the purge and whether it’s underway or over, I’ll be honest and say that I do not know, and I don’t think that the – our time is best spent in speculating on that. I think it is the first part of your question that bears focus, which is namely what combination of actions on the part of the U.S., the Republic of Korea, China, Japan, Russia, others in the international community can have the effect on North Korea that we seek, namely, bringing it to the conclusion that it has no viable alternative but to engage seriously in pending negotiations to bring to an end its nuclear program.
I think that the actions on the part of the United States can fall broadly in two categories: actions that we take or that we facilitate in tandem with partners to bring home to North Korea the consequences and the effect that continued intransigence will have on North Korea as well as on its prospects; and secondly, to continue to make clear that there is a real alternative available to North Korea. President Obama has said – and Secretary Kerry has underscored – that North Korea has a choice to make. North Korea has an option that will end its international isolation that will bolster its security and that will create opportunities for prosperity for its people.
But to avail itself of that opportunity, North Korea has to make a real choice and demonstrate its commitment to take steps to come into compliance with international obligations. The days are long gone when the international community will take North Korea’s IOU. North Korea has not honored its own commitments in the past, and so words alone won’t do. What the international community, including the five members of the Six-Party Talks, seek from North Korea are convincing steps and real evidence that North Korea is prepared to negotiate denuclearization. And our willingness to respond to bona fide steps by North Korea provides an incentive. Our unwillingness to offer concessions in advance, in the hope that it will induce good behavior from North Korea, is a pressure point that we hope will lead North Korea to make the right choice.
QUESTION: Just to follow on Arshad’s question, can you talk specifically about what the message to the Chinese will be about adjusting the nine-dash line? What are you expecting them to do to address those concerns that you’re raising? Do you expect them to, within a certain period of time, try to address that?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Our heartfelt advice to the Chinese is to take steps to remove ambiguity about China’s intentions and about China’s claim and do so in a manner that is fully consistent with international law and fully consistent with the principles of peaceful and diplomatic resolution of disputes. The perception in the region and in the United States that is generated by the incremental actions that China has been taking that my Administration colleague referred to is one of a country that is asserting its position through extra-legal and non-diplomatic means. That’s not a good image of China, and it is not a pattern of behavior by China that the U.S. or others want to see.
We value our constructive relationship with China. We seek and welcome good relations between China and its neighbors. The U.S. has for decades sought to ensure a stable region that allows for economic prosperity and peaceful resolution of disputes. As China rises, we want China to be a net contributor to that peaceful and prosperous region and seek actions both in terms of practical behavior and in terms of legal and diplomatic positions that are conducive to that end.
On the behavior side, we support calls by ASEAN neighbors as well as by Japan for practical mechanisms that will help ensure that crises do not escalate into emergencies or conflict, and that, to the maximum extent, crises are prevented in the first incident through things like hotlines and confidence-building measures and best practices. We think that there is room for a lot of good practical work to be done in that area, as well as some urgency in doing it.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: My State Department colleague is absolutely right about the kind of conversation we need to have with China. I would just add to his points that we look forward to having a rich and a robust discussion about the Chinese that includes not only an explanation from them about the legal basis behind the nine-dash line, as my colleague mentioned, but also their thinking about what types of diplomacy China would be interested in pursuing to lower tensions both in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. There are very good options for both available.
In the South China Sea, China and ASEAN countries have talked about initiating formal negotiations on a code of conduct. That’s something that we strongly support. We hope that these negotiations begin very soon, and that they conclude in a timely manner, and that the code of conduct is a robust document that provides guidelines for ensuring that the behavior of all claimants and parties concerned contribute to peace and stability.
And then regarding the East China Sea, as my colleague said, we think channels for dialogue and diplomacy need to stay open between China and Japan. And we hope that China is open to having those kinds of discussions. And there is room for crisis management mechanisms, and we think that those opportunities should be seized upon. And we’re looking forward to hearing China’s latest thinking about its approach to those challenges in the East China Sea. Thank you.
MODERATOR: All right. Do we have one more? If not, we’ll wrap it up.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask about (inaudible) and no one asked the fate of Bae, who’s in detention, and when anyone’s last heard from him and what’s known about his circumstances, and he’s back in a prison camp. And I know it’s not done through intermediaries, but can you update us on that please?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah, I can tell you what we know, which shouldn’t differ from what you know because we’ve seen the video released by the North Koreans and by Choson Simbo, the news organization that was in there. It would appear that he has been moved back to the camp and is once again at – in a labor camp performing eight or nine or 10 hours of labor a day. And this makes even more urgent the need to resolve the matter, which is why our efforts continue to prevail upon the North Koreans to accept a visit from Ambassador King to Pyongyang to discuss the matter. And we hope to bring Kenneth Bae back to the United States. So we believe he has returned to a camp. Our protecting power, the Swedes, have sent us some reports. And that’s the status as far as we know it at this stage.
And Michael, I think the second part of your question had to do with the status of Korea-Japan relations? Did I understand that right, or no?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I was misinformed.
MODERATOR: (Off-mike.). (Laughter.)
Okay. Great. Thanks, everyone.