Six-Party Talks on the North Korea Nuclear Crisis, Beijing, August 27-29: Statements and Comment
Note: the six delegations were headed by Wang Yi (Vice Foreign Minister, China), James Kelly (Assistant Secretary of State, United States), Kim Yong Il (Vice Foreign Minister, North Korea - Democratic People's Republic of Korea), Lee Soo-hyuck (Deputy Foreign Minister, South Korea - Republic of Korea), Mitoji Yabunaka (Director-General of Asian and Oceanian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan) and Alexander Losyukov (Deputy Foreign Minister, Russian Federation).
Press Conference by Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, August 30
'Vice FM Wang Yi, Head of Chinese Delegation to the Six-party Talks Gives a Press Conference, August 30, 2003', Chinese Foreign Ministry Transcript, August 30; Chinese Foreign Ministry website, http://www.fmprc.gov.cn.
Question: Judging from the talks, how many disputes are there between the DPRK and the US? How long will it take to solve the DPRK nuclear issue?
Wang: The disputes between the two sides are all-faceted, involving a lot of fields. For example, the DPRK has made it clear for many times that the US. imposes a severe threat to the DPRK, but the US insists its own stance on this issue. The existence of disputes is real, but what matters is to adopt a right attitude and method to solve them. The Chinese side always supports a peaceful resolution to the disputes through dialogues. The Korean nuclear issue has a very complicated historical background and realistic principle, and the solution to this issue requires a process, most probably a twisted process. However, so long as all parties have the political will and sincerity, a solution to this issue can be realized completely. The most urgent matter at present is to keep the dialogue momentum that does not come by easily and keep the Beijing-initiated process moving forward.
Question: The US demanded a complete, verifiable and non-reversible way to eliminate the DPRK's nuclear project, and at the same time, the DPRK also requested some kind of security guarantee. Could you explain how the two sides put forward a simultaneous solution?
Wang: Indeed the two sides have put forward their respective demands. All parties also expressed and exchanged their views on the Korean nuclear issue, and on the whole they agreed that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States should resolve each other's concerns simultaneously, and in a good order, especially in the situation where the two sides didn't have much trust in each other. I think it is a practical and feasible way to go.
Question: During the three-day talks, was there any direct contact between the DPRK and the US delegations? How was the atmosphere, and the content? All parties have done their jobs conducive to peace and talks. And what did China do?
Wang: The two sides have had direct contact with each other in a way acceptable to both. As to the specific content, I am afraid that you must ask the people concerned. But what I can confirm is that this contact enhanced the understanding between the two countries. China's role is conducive to peace and talks, and we have made a series of efforts to achieve that. But I want to stress that without all parties' support, it is futile for China to do all that. The Beijing three-party talks held in April were supported by the DPRK and the US, and the six-party talks were suggested by the DPRK, and supported by all sides. So both talks were the efforts of all parties.
[Acronym Note: during a press conference in Manila, the Philippines, on September 1, Vice Foreign Minister Wang was quoted in media reports as remarking - "America's policy toward the DPRK - that is the main problem we are facing. ... We want the US to make clear its position. I believe if we continue the process, we can have more and more common ground despite the huge difference now that we're facing." See 'Chinese aide says US is obstacles in Korean talks,' New York Times, September 2.]
Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, remarks to press after close of meeting, August 29
The six-party talks constitute a historical opportunity for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue. No matter how sharp and complicated the contradictions and conflicts are among different countries, a solution acceptable to all sides concerned should and can be found through communication and dialogue. This is the best way to ensure national and regional security. Although the talks in the future will not be smooth-sailing, as long as the relevant parties make joint efforts, we will find the way for a peaceful solution to the Korean Peninsula's nuclear issue.
Source: In quotes - N. Korea talks end, BBC News Online, August 29, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/3191389.stm.
Foreign Ministry Statement, August 29
'The six-party talks ended', Chinese Foreign Ministry Statement, August 29; Chinese Foreign Ministry.
On August 29, the Beijing six-party talks drew to a close at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Yi presided over the talks' closing ceremony, which was attended by various delegations' heads and other representatives.
Summarizing the common grounds shared by various parties and progress made during the talks, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the six parties, with sincerity and hope, were here in Beijing discussing peace on the Korean Peninsula. The talks have brought about progress while disagreements still remain. However, all the parties have agreed that the Beijing talks are helpful. Although future talks are not ensured to be always smooth, the six parties might find ways to peacefully solve the Korean nuclear issue, which will lead to lasting peace on the peninsula so long as relevant parties make concerted efforts.
All the parties expressed their gratitude to the Chinese hosts for their important efforts and considerate accommodations facilitating the talks. All the parties said that the Beijing talks have provided an important opportunity for solving the Korean nuclear issue and laying a basis for further talks. The parties said that they will earnestly review the proposals and propositions raised by various parties during the meeting. They also pledged to keep talking in a bid to expand common grounds between them.
Foreign Ministry Statement, August 29
'State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan Meets Heads of Delegations to the Six-Party Talks', Chinese Foreign Ministry Statement, August 29; Chinese Foreign Ministry.
On August 29, 2003, State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan met with delegates to the Beijing six-party talks on the Korean nuclear issue at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.
Tang said that the six-party talks have gained much attention from the international community and people of all countries have expectations on the talks, especially the countries in northeast Asia who hope for harmony and tranquility in the region and expect the Korean peninsula to step out of the shadow of the Cold War at an early date and realize lasting peace and stability.
Tang said that the talks were beneficial, adding that relevant parties had worked hard for the talks and laid foundation for the continuation of the process of talks. He also extended cordial greetings to the delegates of these countries.
Tang said that the six-party talks were a new way of dealing with global security problems and listed three implications: First, no matter how sharp and complicated the contradictions and conflicts are among different countries, a solution acceptable to all sides concerned should and can be found through communication and dialogue. This is the best way to ensure national and regional security. Second, mutual trust building is necessary to resolve disputes. To build mutual trust, nations should respect each other and treat each other with equality, forgo the use of force or threats of force, and refrain from comments and actions that might complicate the situation. Third, there may be discrepancies between the positions of different parties, but so long as they make joint efforts and discuss the problem with patience, it is not hard to finally find a meeting point of their respective interests.
He said resolving the nuclear issue demands the realization of denuclearization on the Korean peninsula and the addressing of rational security concern put forward by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea so as to ensure a normal development environment for the DPRK and a realization of lasting and stable peace and security in northeast Asia. This will be a complicated and difficult process, which requires political determination and diplomatic wisdom, as well as a high degree of sense and patience.
He said the talks revealed the political will of all parties seeking for reconciliation and cooperation and resolving the issue through dialogues and peaceful means. China has always been committed to safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and will continue to make positive efforts for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue.
All parties expressed their appreciation for the Chinese government's concern and support for the six-party talks.
Foreign Ministry Statement, August 28
'The Beijing six-party talks on the Korean nuclear issue entered their second day', Chinese Foreign Ministry Statement, August 28; Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The Beijing six-party talks on the Korean nuclear issue entered their second day. The parties further clarified their principled positions and ideas expounded on the first day, and exchanged views in a candid atmosphere. The parties reiterated that de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the common goal of all sides, and the nuclear issue should be solved peacefully through diplomatic means. In addition, they stressed that relevant concerns related to the nuclear issue should also be handled seriously.
Foreign Ministry Statement, August 27
'The Six-party Talks Kicked off', Chinese Foreign Ministry Statement, August 27; Chinese Foreign Ministry.
At 9 AM, August 27, 2003, the six-party talks began at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. Heads of the delegations...earnestly and comprehensively expounded their principled stance and proposals on resolving the Korean nuclear issue. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi extended welcome to the visiting delegations in his opening speech, saying that the six-party talks were not only the continuation and expansion of the trilateral talks held last April in Beijing, but also a new start. The objective of the talks was to peacefully resolve the Korean nuclear issue through dialogue. China would spare no efforts to ensure the six-party talks proceed smoothly. The DPRK, the United States, the ROK, Russia and Japan thanked China once again for its role in making the talks a reality and providing good facilities and conditions for the talks, expecting that the dialogue would help dissolve suspicion and establish trust through dialogue, and resolve the Korean nuclear issue peacefully. They also agreed that the six-party talks offered a rare opportunity for peace in northeast Asia and the participants pledged to make due contributions for advancing the talks.
Foreign Ministry Statement, August 27
'Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing Meets Heads of Delegations to the Six-Party Talks', Chinese Foreign Ministry Statement, August 27; Chinese Foreign Ministry.
On August 27, 2003, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing met heads of the six delegations to the Beijing six-party talks at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. Li said that the convocation of the talks itself is a fruit resulted from concerted efforts made by various parties. Peace is one of the most valuable assets and safeguarding peace through dialogues is the most dependable. The delegations are in Beijing for peace, stability, and the common aspiration of the world, which marks another important progress in peacefully solving the Korean nuclear issue and should be cherished by various parties.
Li said that all parties concerned hope for a peaceful, stable and nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Surrounding negotiation tables, the six delegations exchanged views on the nuclear issue on the peninsula and peace and security in Northeast Asia, which helped improve understanding among those nations and showed their political will in peacefully solving the issue through talks. However, the nuclear issue is rather complicated and cannot be solved at a single strike. He hoped that the concerned parties, with full candor and mutual respect, could seek common grounds while conserving differences and making progress step by step, and create good atmosphere for future talks and keep the mechanism of six-party talks going.
The parties said that today's talks mark a good start. They also thank the Chinese side for arranging the talks.
Foreign Ministry Statement, August 26
'Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi Talks With Heads of the Delegations of Russia, the US, the DPRK, the ROK and Japan', Chinese Foreign Ministry Statement, August 26; Chinese Foreign Ministry.
On August 25 and 26, 2003, before the six-party talks, Wang Yi, Vice Foreign Minister and head of the Chinese delegation, met with Head of Russian delegation Alexander Losiukov, Head of the United States delegation James Kelly, Head of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Yong Il, Head of the Republic of Korea (ROK) delegation Lee Soo-Hyuck, and Head of the Japanese delegation Mitoji Yabunaka.
Wang welcomed the delegations attending the talks, saying it demonstrated the political will to seek peaceful ways to resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue. The six-party talks have been supported by the governments and people of the six countries, and have received a lot of attention and expectations from the international community. He hoped that all delegations would expound their positions fully at the talks, and listen to the views of other parties so that the talks can lay a solid foundation for the continuation of the Beijing negotiation process.
Heads of the five delegations thanked China for its efforts in starting the peaceful negotiation process. They said they highly valued this opportunity of the six-party Beijing talks and would work together to make the talks a good meeting.
Interview with Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, August 26
'Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Head of the Chinese Delegation to the Six-Party Beijing Talks, Receives a Joint Interview by Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily, CCTV, CRI and China Daily, August 26, 2003'; Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Question: Since last October, tension on the Korean Peninsula has again intensified, centering on the nuclear issue, which has drawn wide attention from the international community. What is the basic position of the Chinese side on this issue?
Wang: The Korean Peninsula and China are connected by mountains and rivers, and whether its stability can be maintained concerns the fundamental interests of the north and the south, and directly affects the peaceful environment surrounding China, and affects peace and tranquility of Northeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region at large. Consequently, China has always taken safeguarding peace and stability of the peninsula as the starting point for tackling the peninsula issue, and so does it on the nuclear issue. We hold that the Korean Peninsula should be nuclear-free. At the same time, the DPRK's security concerns should also be addressed through the only means of dialogue and peaceful talks so as to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula. Last October when the Korean nuclear tension intensified again, then Chinese President Jiang Zemin, while meeting with US President George W. Bush at the Crawford Ranch, Texas, clearly stated China's stance of peacefully resolving the nuclear issue. The stance represents China's consistent position, serves the fundamental interests of all parties, and has been welcomed by the international community and become the common consensus for resolving the issue at present.
Question: Both the April three-party Beijing talks and the six-party talks have not come by easily. However, many people have the feeling that the Chinese government has been more deeds than words. Can you talk about the past diplomatic efforts by the Chinese government?
Wang: The root of the nuclear issue derives from the remaining shadow of the Cold War on the Korean peninsula. After the problem became acute, the main views and proposition between the DPRK and the US became confrontational, leading to the escalation of situation on the Korean peninsula. All surrounding countries, including China, are widely concerned about the situation. We are against such actions as sanctions or coerce, least to mention war. We sincerely hope the nuclear issue can be resolved peacefully. The DPRK and US also showed willingness to hold peace talks. The Chinese leaders and government, thus far, made unremitting efforts to promote the peace talks. The focus of the talks is by what way and about what contents. China holds an open and flexible attitude on the talks. We pay high heed to the opinions of all sides, in particular the DPRK and the US, and try to seek common points and draw rational parts from all sides. The format of the talks is important but the contents are even more so. The talks should be the equal dialogue with substantial contents and a channel to find solution to the issue. China has carried out several rounds of diplomatic mediation since March this year. The China-DPRK-US three-party talks were first realized, making the first step towards the peaceful solution to the nuclear issue through dialogue. The Chinese government has recently sent envoys to shuttle among countries concerned to continue to promote the peace talks process. At present, the six-party talks are going to be held in Beijing. I would like to emphasize that the DPRK has made important and resolute decisions for the realization of the six-party talks. The United States and other parties concerned also tabled important proposals for the talks. The Chinese side supports and welcomes all efforts conducive to promoting dialogue and pushing forward peace talks.
Question: The upcoming six-party Beijing talks have drawn attention from the whole world. Can you talk about your expectations of the talks and forecast the future prospects?
Wang: The six-party Beijing talks are another important step towards peacefully resolving the nuclear issue since the three-party talks in April. The holding of the talks shows the willingness of the parties to peacefully solve differences through dialogue and their spirit to seek reconciliation and cooperation. The get-together of six parties itself has sent out a positive signal. However, the nuclear issue is very complicated and acute, and it is impossible to solve all problems through one or two discussions. Moreover, other issues may still arise during negotiations, but it all depends on people's efforts. China, as the host country, will provide every facility for the progress of the six-party talks. China hopes all parties will take into consideration the general situation of safeguarding peace and stability of the Korean peninsula, show sincerity to solve the issue, adopt a calm and patient attitude, respect each other, conduct consultations on an equal footing, seek common grounds, and reduce disputes, so as to ensure the talks to continue and yield peace.
White House Briefing, September 2
Press briefing by Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary, Washington, September 2; The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, http://www.whitehouse.gov.
Question: On North Korea, did the President and Secretary of State discuss it today? And is the President now prepared to take tougher actions, perhaps a quarantine or financial boycott of North Korea?
Scott McClellan: Well, one, the meeting with the Secretary of State hasn't taken place. But that's one of the regular meetings he has and it's not something that we typically get into readouts on. But our policy on North Korea remains the same. We are pursuing a peaceful, diplomatic solution through a multilateral forum. North Korea knows what they need to do. They need to end their pursuit of nuclear weapons, end its nuclear weapons program in a verifiable and irreversible way. And the talks last week, some progress was made. All countries made it very clear to North Korea that they support this policy.
Question: But is there any review, is there any sense of urgency, any consideration of changing course here?
McClellan: No, we're continuing to work this through the multilateral approach.
State Department Press Briefing, September 2
Press briefing by Richard Boucher, State Department Spokesperson, Washington, September 2; US Department of State website, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2003/23671.htm.
Question: [T]he Chinese seem to have come out and said that you guys are the problem here. What do you have to say to that?
Richard Boucher: Well, let me say several things. On the question of the Chinese, we've seen some press reports quoting, I think it's Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi. I have yet to see the real transcript of what he said, and I want to be very careful about saying exactly what it was he said, whether he was representing a Chinese view or representing views that others, North Koreans, might have expressed. So I don't know what he said and I can't comment specifically on him. I think that it was clear from the talks in Beijing that all, perhaps with the exceptions of the North Koreans, at the discussions in Beijing agreed that the main problem is North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and that all the parties getting together agreed that we need to address that in a multilateral fashion and ensure an end to the nuclear weapons program. So we, the Chinese, along with Russia, Japan and South Korea, continue to work together very closely on a peaceful resolution to the North Korean nuclear problem. And as you know, we believe this must lead to an end, to a complete, verifiable and irreversible end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program. ...
Question: Forgetting, leaving out the fact of what the Vice Foreign Minister said or might have said, how do you respond to - how would you respond to someone who said - who said that the US position was the problem? In other words, when you say you obviously don't agree with it.
Boucher: I would respond the way I did, that it seems that all the parties in Beijing agree that North Korea's nuclear weapons program is the problem, the main problem.
Question: As far as I know, you haven't responded to the various North Korean statements since the meeting ended on Friday, the first of which said that they didn't see any point in continuing with these discussions, followed by a quasi-backtrack subsequent to that. Any comment on all of this?
Boucher: Well, it is nice to let time pass because they turn out - there is several statements. If you comment on each one, you find yourself with a bit of whiplash. I think the point is that, as the Chinese hosts, I think, conveyed after the discussions in Beijing, that the parties at the discussions agreed that there was value in continuing discussions in the multilateral setting, and that the next step was for the Chinese to consult with the parties on dates for another round of talks. We would expect that process to be underway. So there was, I think, a consensus at the meeting that the multilateral process was valuable and should continue, and we would expect all of the parties at the meetings to maintain that consensus. ...
Question: Can you tell us a little bit more about the latest talking in Beijing, and what Secretary's assessment on that talk in Beijing? Was it surprised - he surprised that the DPRK again, for their part, say that they could demonstrate their nuclear position, and what...
Boucher: Well, how much of readout did you guys do on Friday [August 29]?
Question: Guidance. ... There was no briefing.
Boucher: I think, first of all, neither the Secretary, nor anyone else around here is surprised by belligerent and somewhat contradictory statements made by North Korea. At the same time, the assessment of the talks in Beijing was that there was a useful consensus on the importance of the multilateral process, that the talks demonstrated why it's important to have everybody there. Everybody heard what was said; no secrets, everybody heard the same thing and saw the same thing and it's all on the table. The strong consensus that North Korea needs to end its nuclear program was also valuable. And so I think we felt that the overall discussion was useful, if not if not immediately productive. It wasn't expected to be, and that there would be further talks, as everybody agreed at that meeting.
Question: Wasn't it failure that they couldn't agree that a next round of talk at any other...
Boucher: Well, they seem to have agreed to have another round of talks. The fact that they weren't set up immediately at a precise date is not unusual in diplomatic discussions. ...
Question: You said that you were - there was a strong consensus at the meeting that North Korea needs to end its nuclear program, but was there a consensus that the US proposal is the right way to go about it? In other words, the first thing that would have to happen is dismantling of North Korea's weapons facilities, and only then would concessions be talked about?
Boucher: I don't think I can give an endorsement to a particular proposal, even ours, as meritorious as I'm sure it was. The point is that these are initial discussions. They're the beginning of a process. They are not a moment where we expected particular agreement on a particular proposal. But I think we felt that the discussions in Beijing demonstrated the value of this multilateral process and some agreement among the participants to continue.
White House Deputy Spokesperson Claire Buchan, remarks to press after close of meeting, August 29
North Korea has a long history of making inflammatory comments that serve to isolate it from the rest of the world ... [But] the US team has assessed the Beijing talks as positive. We're receiving excellent cooperation from our partners.
Source: In quotes - N. Korea talks end, BBC News Online, August 29, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/3191389.stm.
White House Press Briefing, August 28
Press briefing by Claire Buchan, White House Deputy Press Secretary, Crawford, Texas, August 28; The White House, Office of the Press Secretary.
Claire Buchan: As you know, the talks were held in North Korea today. It's now night in North Korea. And we expect there to be additional talks tomorrow. We believe there's been excellent cooperation in the talks among the five partners of the United States, including China, Japan, South Korea and Russia. And the only way to - only through common effort and purpose can the US and our friends and allies hope to convince North Korea to peacefully abandon its nuclear ambitions. And our position is clear, which is that North Korea must completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear program.
Question: Well, they basically thumbed their nose at that demand today and called their partners liars on behalf of the United States. So what is the reaction to what happened? You described it as an excellent opening session - it doesn't sound...
Buchan: Well, the assessment from our team who was on the ground in North Korea - or in Beijing, rather, in these discussions, is that this is a positive session that they have been having. The President has longed believed that this is an issue that must be addressed in a multilateral forum. And the fact that we are meeting in a multilateral forum to talk about the importance of North Korea completely and irreversibly dismantling its nuclear program is an important step. And we're receiving excellent cooperation from our partners.
Question: But what's the basis of saying it was an excellent session?
Buchan: This is the assessment...of the people who are in the negotiations. ... You would have to talk to the people who are in the negotiations. I don't think they're probably going to get into all of the specifics of their conversations. ...
Question: Are we disappointed - is the United States disappointed with the reaction of North Koreans? Or does the United States feel we've heard this kind of thing before... Should we take your comments to mean that the very negative comments by the North Koreans at the talks is only, like, the opening [of] negotiations. And the talks continue, the talks - therefore, the United States is not terribly concerned.
Buchan: Well, North Korea has a long history of making inflammatory comments that serve to isolate it from the rest of the world. And that is why this is an issue that the world and other nations, in addition to the United States, are addressing together. ...
Question: AP is saying that North Korea has both warned that it will declare itself a nuclear state and that it will conduct a nuclear test. The administration's position has been, there is no crisis here. If North Korea conducts a nuclear test or it declares itself a nuclear power, does that change the administration's assessment about whether we have a crisis?
Buchan: I'm not going to speculate about things that haven't happened...but we've made very clear that North Korea must completely, irreversibly dismantle its nuclear program. And discussions are underway in Beijing. And that, in itself, is a very positive development because it has been something that the President has long believed is part of the solution there, a diplomatic solution, and that is what we are in the process of doing.
Question: ... In March or April, when the South Korean President was here, there was a joint statement issued in which both countries, South Korea and the United States, said they would not tolerate a nuclear North Korea. Does that statement remain in effect?
Buchan: Well, the President has indicated many, many times that the Korean Peninsula must - should be de-nuclearized. ...
Question: Even though the North Koreans could not have been more antagonistic at this session, been more negative in their remarks, there to be a certain Pollyanna-ish attitude at the administration. And maybe I'm misinterpreting remarks - is the United States disappointed at all in these North Korean remarks, which were pretty harsh at this opening rally?
Buchan: The United States position and our top priority has not changed. It is very clear. And that is that we need the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. And that stands as it is, period.
Question: I'm going to make one more stab on North Korea, okay? What is the President's reaction to North Korea saying it not only has nuclear weapons, but that it plans to conduct a test? ...
Buchan: The President believes that North Korea must completely, irreversibly dismantle its nuclear program. That is the President's view. And that is also the view of our partners who are joined with the United States in these talks with North Korea.
State Department Press Briefing, August 28
Press briefing by Philip Reeker, Deputy State Department Spokesperson, Washington, August 28; 'State Department Noon Briefing, August 28, 2003', US Department of State (Washington File), http://usinfo.state.gov/usinfo/products/washfile.html.
Question: What can you tell us about the talks in Beijing?
Philip Reeker: The six delegations who are meeting in Beijing again today met in plenary session for about four hours today. ... The participants reviewed the presentations from the previous day. I would note that the United States' delegation met with the South Korean and Japanese delegations briefly before the plenary session, and the United States and Russia met briefly following the plenary session. And as with yesterday, and as I have indicated to all of you anticipating this, I don't have further details to offer regarding the substance of our discussions. As you know, we are there to focus on the complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of the nuclear weapons program in North Korea, for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which everybody agrees is in everybody's interests, and obviously would lead to lessening of tensions, and greater peace on the entire Korean Peninsula.
Question: And what is the status of the talks right now?
Reeker: ... These delegations expect to meet again tomorrow, and I don't have any particular decisions on a next round or any particular next steps... There were no informal US.-DPRK meetings at today's session.
Question: ... It was noticed in Beijing that Assistant Secretary Kelly left the talks before many of the others did. Do you know what that...
Reeker: I saw some press reports to that, and I am told those press reports are inaccurate. Mr. Kelly, Assistant Secretary James Kelly, did not depart early. He attended the entire plenary session...
Question: [A]re you saying that you can't in any way tell us whether it's so that there was an announcement from North Korea that it was - it planned to declare its nuclear programs and also plans to test them?
Reeker: No, I am not going to discuss substance of the talks at all. I think our views, obviously, as I just said a minute ago in terms of nuclear weapons are that there needs to be a complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of the North Korean nuclear weapons program.
Question: I guess testing wouldn't fall under that category?
Reeker: Well, we don't think they should have nuclear weapons, so obviously, we don't think they should be testing them. I guess they kind of go hand-in-hand.
Question: I was joking. ...
White House Press Briefing, August 27
Press briefing by Claire Buchan, White House Deputy Press Secretary, Crawford, Texas, August 27; The White House, Office of the Press Secretary.
Question: On this morning's videoconference with the national security advisors or aides, did the topic of North Korea come up? Has the President been briefed at all by people who were taking part in the talks, like Mr. Kelly? And what does he hope will come out of these talks?
Claire Buchan: On national security discussions this morning, as you know, we don't talk about the contents of those meetings. On the talks more generally, the six party discussions on North Korea, which were convened in Beijing today, and they're scheduled to continue through the 29th of the month, the President has long said that this is a multilateral issue. And we are pleased that the meetings have begun and we welcome them. We understand that all the parties delivered their opening statements of their positions. Besides the United States, the participants, as usual, are China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and North Korea. All of them began with their opening statements. Assistant Secretary of State Kelly reiterated that our top priority remains the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. ...
Question: Was the one-on-one discussion between North Korea and the United States that occurred on the sidelines, was that planned or scheduled or...
Buchan: Well, what we've always indicated is that these will be multilateral discussions, and nothing precludes a conversation across the table between two parties. But that's always been what we've said on that. But there are not separate and individual bilateral discussions going on.
State Department Press Briefing, August 27
Press briefing by Philip Reeker, Deputy State Department Spokesperson, Washington, August 27; 'State Department Noon Briefing, August 27, 2003', US Department of State (Washington File).
Question: On North Korea...could you give us a rundown on the talks?
Philip Reeker: A rundown? ... I don't have any adjectives and I don't have any adverbs, but I can tell you that the six delegations met in plenary session today in Beijing from 9:00 a.m. to about 4:00 p.m. with a break for lunch. The six delegations delivered opening presentations of their positions. As anticipated, as we have talked about, Assistant Secretary Kelly had an informal exchange with North Korean representatives in the plenary meeting room at the end of the day, and there will not be any separate, formal bilateral meetings with the North Koreans as we have also said before. I would just remind you what a senior official told you in a full briefing last Friday, that this is a process, it's the beginning of a process, and so I don't have further details to offer regarding the substance of these talks. We expect another plenary session tomorrow, I believe, there, in Beijing, and will continue as such. ...
Question: Although there are not going to be any separate, formal bilateral meetings, would, could there...be another informal exchange such as the one that happened today...
Reeker: I suppose, in theory, that's possible. ... There will not be any separate, formal bilateral meetings with the North Koreans. That's a fact. ... The informal exchange is, as we have said all along, when you are in a room with six delegations...
Question: Yeah, yeah. I know. I know. I just want to make sure that you're not saying that...
Reeker: There's an opportunity for anybody to say anything to anybody else within, between, and among all of the people that make up those six delegations participating in the talks. ...
Question: Did the North Koreans share any information that the Assistant Secretary found new or significant?
Reeker: I'm just not in a position to try to do that kind of description regarding substance of the discussions from one direction or the other. They - each of the delegations offered opening presentations of their positions and we proceeded with the talks, as I described, and I'm just not going to be able to get into anything else. ...
Question: At the risk of belaboring something that's just not going to get answer, there were reports out of Tokyo that the North Koreans raised the issue of a non-aggression pact and that the Americans rejected this. Do you want to respond to that now?
Reeker: I just am not going to try to describe substance of the discussions. Our position on that type of thing has been well discussed. Even yesterday, again, Deputy Secretary Armitage made quite clear, as the President has stated in his comments, that we have no desire to invade, no desire to attack North Korea. What these talks are about, what our goals are, is what was described for you in many different fora and as I have said from here, we're about complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of the nuclear weapons program in North Korea, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the lessening of tensions. And so that's our focus. Obviously, it would be the substance of our presentation and what we are in these talks to discuss. ...
Question: There were also reports that there were actually more than one informal exchange. Can you just...
Reeker: You know, it's so hard to describe informal exchange when you're in a room. A lot of people are in a room and they are participating in talks. As I said, there was an informal exchange where Assistant Secretary Kelly talked - I believe it was for about 35 or 40 minutes - with North Korean representatives there in the plenary meeting room at the end of the day. And you know, obviously, as human beings encounter each other, there are other opportunities for informal exchanges. So that type of thing may happen throughout the course of these talks. That is part of what multiparty talks are about. But this is taking place in a multilateral setting, you know, in a plenary room with all six delegations there because all of these countries have an interest in pursuing these talks; these talks, obviously, including South Korea and Japan, China, Russia and the North Koreans. They include countries that have serious equities and serious interests in the goals that I just described in terms of a non-nuclear and denuclearized Korean Peninsula. ...
Official News Agency Statement, September 2
'KCNA on Six-way Talk and DPRK's principled stand', Statement by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Pyongyang, September 2; KCNA website, http://www.kcna.co.jp.
Some unsavory elements and media in the West including the US are spreading weird misinformation as regards the six-way talks held in Beijing from August 27 to 29. They pulled up the DPRK, saying that North Korea's attitude confused countries around it and the talks nearly reached the point of rupture due to North Korea's hard-line remarks, impudent assertions and brinkmanship. These are unreasonable remarks making profound confusing of the right and wrong and completely distorting the objective reality.
The six-way talks were reduced to an armchair argument as they failed to achieve any initial results and their prospect remains unpredictable. This was entirely attributable to the US brigandish assertions. As already known, the DPRK has exerted all its sincere efforts for a peaceful negotiated settlement of the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US at the talks. It clarified its consistent stand on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and set forth reasonable and comprehensive ways for realizing it.
The DPRK, with an aim to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in exchange for the US renunciation of its hostile policy toward the DPRK, set forth a proposal for package solution, requesting the US to implement all the measures for it on a phased basis on the principle of simultaneous actions. This is the most reasonable way of settling the DPRK-US nuclear issue that no one can deny as it is based on the principle of simultaneous actions.
Regrettably, the US flatly denied those fair and above-board principles. Refusing to show any will to make a substantial policy switchover it clarified its stand that it can discuss the issues of security assurances and economic cooperation only when the DPRK completely eliminates its nuclear weapons program first. It also said that full ranges of other issues including missiles, conventional weapons and human rights should be discussed for the normalization of the bilateral relations even after the DPRK's complete abandonment of its nuclear weapons program. The US is demanding the DPRK accept its demands while it is not moving even a step. It is asking the DPRK to drop its gun first while it is still leveling its gun at the DPRK. What a brigandish demand! The talks clearly showed that the US does not have any intention to seek a negotiated peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue between the two countries nor any willingness to co-exist.
What is clear is that the US sought to lead the talks to the point of rupture by raising unilateral demands unacceptable to the DPRK and shift the responsibility for it on to the DPRK and thus convince the international community of the validity of its calls for the Pyongyang's "abandonment of nuclear weapons program first". Due to such moves of the US the talks proved hardly beneficial as they could not help settle the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US.
The DPRK's fixed will to peacefully settle the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US through dialogue remains unchanged. If the US keeps heading for a nuclear standoff, not dropping its hostile policy toward the DPRK, the DPRK will have no option but to increase its nuclear deterrent force as a self-defensive measure to protect its sovereignty.
Foreign Ministry Statement, August 30
'DPRK Foreign Ministry On Six-way Talks, Pyongyang, August 30, 2003'; KCNA, September 1.
As already reported, the six-way talks on the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US took place in Beijing from August 27 to 29. The talks were a product of the utmost magnanimity and good faith shown by the DPRK prompted by its will to seek a negotiated peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US. Proceeding from its principled stand to fundamentally settle the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, the DPRK took an initiative o proposing to hold the six-way talks, not sticking to any format of dialogue. At the recent talks, too, the DPRK made clear its consistent stand on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and set out reasonable and comprehensive ways to realize it.
Despite our good faith and magnanimity the US, however, took a more hard-line stand and raised undisguised brigandish demands worse than its repeated call for the DPRK's "abandonment of its nuclear weapons program first," far from showing its will to renounce hostile policy toward the DPRK. The US asserted that it can discuss the issue of the DPRK's concerns only when it takes a practical action to physically dismantle the "nuclear weapons program" in a verifiable and irreversible manner.
At the bilateral contact made between the DPRK and the US on the sidelines of the six-way talks, the US flatly denied a package solution and the order of simultaneous actions proposed by the DPRK to attain its goal of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, but made such assertions that a full range of other issues of concerns including missiles, conventional weapons and human rights should be discussed for the normalization of relationship between the DPRK and the US only after its "nuclear program" is scrapped. This means the US asking the DPRK drop its gun first, saying it would not open fire, when both sides are leveling guns at each other. How can the DPRK trust the US and drop its gun? Even a child would not be taken in by such a trick. What we want is for both sides to drop guns at the same time and co-exist peacefully. However, the US is insisting for no reason that it would think about it only after the DPRK drops its gun first.
This only convinced the DPRK of the fact that the US has neither willingness to improve relations with the DPRK nor any intention to make a switchover in its policy toward the DPRK and does not want to co-exist with the DPRK in peace but seeks its invariable sinister aim to totally disarm the DPRK at any cost. The talks, therefore, were reduced to armchair argument quite contrary to our expectation and offered only an occasion of demanding the DPRK disarm itself.
This made it impossible for the DPRK to have any interest or expectation for the talks as they are not beneficial to it. The talks only reinforced our confidence that there is no other option for us but to further increase the nuclear deterrent force as a self-defensive measure to protect our sovereignty.
Summary of Meeting & Statements, August 29
'Keynote Speeches Made at Six-way Talks', summary provided by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Pyongyang, August 29; KCNA website.
Heads of delegations to the six-way talks on the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US made keynote speeches at the talks opened in Beijing on August 27. Assistant State Secretary James Kelly, head of the US delegation, said that the US immediate purpose is to ensure that the north Korean nuclear program is eliminated in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. He added that the US can discuss security assurances and political and economic benefits only when the DPRK eliminates its nuclear weapons program completely, verifiably and irreversibly.
Noting that the US would not pursue the bilateral talks with the DPRK for the solution to the nuclear issue, he said: "Once the DPRK's nuclear weapons program is eliminated, the US is prepared to start bilateral negotiations on a series of issues, including missiles, conventional weapons, counterfeiting and drug smuggling, terrorism, human rights and abduction. That would be aimed to normalize the bilateral relations. The conclusion of any non-aggression treaty is neither appropriate nor necessary. The US is, therefore, not interested in it. Once the DPRK's verifiable and irreversible abandonment of the nuclear weapons program is confirmed, the US would be ready to discuss security concerns with other countries at the next talks."
Kim Yong Il, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, who is leading the DPRK delegation to the six-way talks on the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US, in his keynote speech made clear the principled stand on the settlement of the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US. He said:
"The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is the general goal of the DPRK. It is not our goal to have nuclear weapons. The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was our initiative and it is our consistent stand and the desire of all Koreans to realise it. The US is, however, standing in its way. If the nuclear issue between the two countries is to be peacefully settled through dialogue the US should make a radical switchover in its policy toward the DPRK. This is a master key to and a precondition for the settlement of the nuclear issue. The Bush administration openly disclosed its attempt to use nuclear weapons after listing the DPRK as part of 'an axis of evil' and a target of a 'preemptive nuclear attack.' This prompted us to judge that the Bush administration is going to stifle our system by force and decide to build a strong deterrent force to cope with it. Hence, we determined to possess that force. Our deterrent force is not aimed to attack somebody without any proper reason. It is a means for self-defence to protect our sovereignty.
We can dismantle our nuclear program if the US makes a switchover in its hostile policy towards us and does not pose any threat to us. The benchmark for our judgement that the US no longer antagonizes us will be provided only when a non-aggression treaty is concluded between the DPRK and the US, diplomatic relations opened between them and the US does not obstruct our economic dealing with other countries. The non-aggression treaty called for by us is by no means to demand 'security assurances', but to have a non-aggression treaty with legal biding force whereby both signatories commit themselves to non-aggression.
The US can not shirk its responsibility for having suspended the implementation of the Agreed Framework. We have fully fulfilled our commitment to freeze our nuclear facility since the adoption of the Agreed Framework. Kelly, who came to the DPRK as a special envoy of President Bush in October 2002, failing to present any specific 'evidence', groundlessly pulled us up, using coercive words and rudely behaving ignoring the Oriental custom. He claimed that we have secretly pushed forward an enriched uranium program in breach of the Agreed Framework. In this regard we made it clear that we have no secret nuclear program but we are entitled to have weapons more powerful than those based on enriched uranium. We have powerful weapons, including single-hearted unity.
After Kelly's Pyongyang visit, the US misled the public opinion, saying that we admitted to the secret nuclear program and unilaterally stopped the supply of heavy fuel oil from November, 2002. The DPRK-US Agreed Framework concluded in October 1994 was thus nullified due to the US unilateral refusal to fulfil its commitments. The DPRK has abided by the principle that the measures for settling the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US should be implemented by simultaneous actions. These actions provide a realistic way of realizing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Any opposition to the simultaneous actions would mean opposing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and, furthermore, can not be construed otherwise than a revelation of an intention to disarm the DPRK and swallow it up. 'Early inspection' can never be accepted in any case..."
He further said:
"For a package solution, the US should conclude a non-aggression treaty with the DPRK, establish diplomatic relations with it and guarantee the economic cooperation between the DPRK and Japan and between the north and the south of Korea. And it should also compensate for the loss of electricity caused by the delayed provision of light water reactors and complete their construction. For [i.e. in exchange for] this, the DPRK should not make nuclear weapons and allow the nuclear inspection, finally dismantle its nuclear facility, put on ice the missile testfire and stop its export. According to the order of simultaneous actions, the US should resume the supply of heavy fuel oil, sharply increase the humanitarian food aid while the DPRK should declare its will to scrap its nuclear program. According to this order, we will allow the refreeze of our nuclear facility and nuclear substance and monitoring and inspection of them from the time the US has concluded a non-aggression treaty with the DPRK and compensated for the loss of electricity. We will settle the missile issue when diplomatic relations are opened between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and Japan. And we will dismantle our nuclear facility from the time the LWRs [light-water reactors] are completed.
Clarifying the principled stand of the DPRK on finding a solution to the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US, our delegation would like to advance the following proposal prompted by the desire to make the six-way talks fruitful.
First, the DPRK and the US should make clear their will to clear up bilateral concerns.
The DPRK will clarify its will to dismantle its nuclear program if the US makes clear its will to give up its hostile policy toward the DPRK.
Second, all the countries participating in the six-way talks should agree on the principle to implement the measures for solving the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US through simultaneous actions.
If our reasonable proposal is turned aside at the talks, we will judge that the US does not intend to give up its attempt to stifle the DPRK by force at an appropriate time while persistently insisting the DPRK 'scrap its nuclear program first; to waste time. In this case the DPRK can not dismantle its nuclear deterrent force but will have no option but to increase it. Whether the nuclear issue will be settled or not depends on the US attitude."
Chinese, Russian, South Korean and Japanese sides made keynote remarks at the talks.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, head of the Chinese delegation, said the nuclear issue should be solved peacefully, adding that the conclusion of a non-aggression treaty, peaceful co-existence and normalization of relations with the US and the establishment of economic and trade relations with other countries proposed by the DPRK are a positive, constructive, just and rational offer. He noted that the conclusion of the non-aggression treaty should be settled through the DPRK-US direct talks and the issues of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and security concerns raised by the DPRK should be solved simultaneously. It is important to achieve durable peace on the Korean peninsula by establishing a peace mechanism on the peninsula with the peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue as a momentum, and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is favorable for protecting the fundamental interests of the north and the south of Korea and the stable situation in Northeast Asia, he said.
Russian Vice Foreign Minister Losyukov, head of the Russian delegation, said an emergency measure is needed to defuse the tensions on the Korean peninsula, noting that it is important to work out a 'roadmap' by incorporating each other's measures. He noted that Russia is interested in ensuring denuclearization and durable peace on the Korean peninsula and maintaining reliable security for all the countries in the region and developing the mutually beneficial cooperation.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of South Korea, Lee Soo-Hyuck, head of the South Korean delegation, set out the 'simultaneous action order', promising to sincerely implement the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration and continue the economic aid to the DPRK on the basis of compatriotism and humanitarianism and noting the nuclear issue should be comprehensively solved.
Department Director of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mitoji Yabunaka, head of the Japanese delegation, noted that it is necessary to solve the missile and abduction issues in a comprehensive way together with the nuclear issue.
Through the keynote remarks made by each delegation at the six-way talks one may comment on the stance of each country as follows:
The DPRK reclarified its consistent stand that its goal is the denuclearization and the guarantee of peace and security on the Korean peninsula and comprehensively set out a clear orientation and specific ways for the peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue including the principle of simultaneous actions. The DPRK set the goal of dropping its nuclear program from the time the US abandons its hostile policy towards the DPRK and advanced a package solution and simultaneous action order, calling for implementing all the measures to attain the goal on a phased basis on the principle of simultaneous actions.
China, Russia and South Korea also referred to the package solution and the way of simultaneous actions, urging the peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue.
Japan took the attitude to use the six-way talks for meeting its political interests, focusing on the abduction issue rather than the settlement of the nuclear issue. The prevailing tone of the keynote remarks is that it is imperative to achieve denuclearization and peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, peacefully solve the nuclear issue and to this end give a package solution to all issues of concerns between the DPRK and the US on a phased basis on the principle of simultaneous actions.
But regrettably, the United States flatly refused such views. The United States opposed the package solution and the principle of simultaneous actions instead of expressing its will to make a practical switchover in its policy. It is the US stand that only when the DPRK scraps its nuclear program first the US can discuss issues of security assurances and economic aid and the issues of missile, conventional weapons, human rights and other issues should be discussed if the DPRK wants to normalize the relations with the US even after it completely abandons its nuclear program. The United States said the next talks can take place only when the DPRK expresses its intention to scrap its nuclear program.
In the final analysis, the US would move only after the DPRK is completely disarmed. It is against common sense to raise such a demand to its counterpart at the talks when the DPRK and the US are standing in confrontation with each other with arms and this raises a serious question as to its true intention. The DPRK cannot but interpret this otherwise than a US intention to invade it after it is disarmed. It is a brigandish-like demand beyond the tolerance limit.
It has become clearer through the six-way talks that the United States is forcing the DPRK to disarm, while persistently pursuing its hostile policy toward the DPRK. In fact, the DPRK hoped that an agreement was reached between them at the talks whereby the DPRK could be able to express its will to scrap its nuclear program in return for the US manifestation of its will to make a policy switchover at least and the hard-won dialogue would go on. As such expectation was betrayed, it is not difficult to guess how the DPRK will react to it. By flatly refusing to exchange even words expressing the will to make policy switchover, the United States put the prospect of the next talks at peril.
Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong Il, remarks to press after close of meeting, August 29
If the nuclear issue between the two countries is to be peacefully settled through dialogue, the US should make a radical switchover in its policy towards the DPRK. This is the master key to and a precondition for the settlement of the nuclear issue.
Source: In quotes - N. Korea talks end, BBC News Online, August 29, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/3191389.stm.
Rodong Sinmun Newspaper Commentary, August 27
'Rodong Sinmun on Six-way Talks', August 27 newspaper commentary broadcast by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Pyongyang, August 27; KCNA website.
The parties concerned are...requested to make a good use of the hard-won opportunity to make the discussion successful and help the talks produce substantial results. The principle of equality and impartiality should be strictly observed and no prejudice, one-sided and unilateral attitude should be allowed at the talks. The parties concerned should pay particular attention to and guard against any attempt to use the talks as a leverage of international pressure intended to disarm somebody and handle the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US on an unequal and partial basis not by a measure of simultaneous action but talking only instead of action.
The success or failure and fate of the six-way talks may depend on the stand and will of the US, the main party concerned responsible for the nuclear issue.
The US should refrain from putting up unreasonable conditions and opting for meeting its unilateral demands and interests at the talks. The talks must follow the way of "giving and taking" under any circumstances. The US should not attempt to force the DPRK to dismantle its nuclear deterrent force by making an empty promise or giving written "security assurances" without any legal binding force, but clarify its will to make a switchover in its hostile policy toward the DPRK and conclude a non-aggression treaty with it. This would be a key to the success of the six-way talks. Without this, it would be impossible to expect any substantial results from the talks.
It is good for the US and other parties concerned to work hard to prevent such an undesirable thing as betraying the expectation of the international community and disappointing it from happening at the talks.
Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck, remarks to press after close of meeting, August 29
There was a consensus that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should be achieved by all means, and that there is a need to address the security concerns of North Korea. All the countries agreed no further action should be taken that will aggravate the situation.
Foreign Ministry Press Conference, August 29
Press Conference by Hatsuhisa Takashima, Press Secretary, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo, August 29; Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, website, http://www.mofa.go.jp.
Hatsuhisa Takashima: The meeting was concluded at 12:45 Japan time today. The Japanese Government highly appreciates the efforts of the Government of the People's Republic of China to organize this meeting and also highly values the outcome of this meeting. This meeting reaffirmed the international wish to see the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the peaceful and diplomatic solution to the issues and the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. The Government of Japan expressed its hope that this meeting will be continued in this form and will produce successful outcomes in the future round of talks.
Question: There was a news report overnight that North Korea threatened to use nuclear weapons. Do you have any reaction to this?
Mr. Takashima: No I do not, but my understanding is that there was a reference to the nuclear weapons during the second-day discussions at the six-party talks. However, we would rather refrain from disclosing the details. My understanding is that it was not a kind of announcement that North Korea would utilize nuclear weapons in the way that you have just mentioned.
Question: You are aware of the fact that North Korea has nuclear weapons and is willing to use them?
Mr. Takashima: I would prefer not to use the word 'threats', but they referred to nuclear weapons.
Question: What is Japan's response to that?
Mr. Takashima: As I have said, Japan has already expressed the importance of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and we are urging North Korea not to worsen the situation for the sake of a peaceful and diplomatic solution to this issue.
Question: I have heard through the Japanese media that Japan is trying to hold some more bilateral meetings with North Korea. Will they be realized or do you have any hopes that they will be realized any time today?
Mr. Takashima: We are hopeful and we are available any time if they are available for bilateral talks. Yesterday the Japanese delegation held two bilateral meetings with the North Korean delegation in Beijing. We made it very clear that we would be interested in having another round of bilateral talks any time today. But so far, I have no information on whether or not they have materialized today.
Question: Is the abduction issue going to be a major part of the talks if the bilateral meetings are organized again?
Mr. Takashima: Yes, because the abduction issue is the number-one priority as far as the Japanese delegation is concerned. ... Of course, we are very much interested in discussing other issues such as North Korea's nuclear weapons development program and missile development. ...
Question: In the talks in Beijing, North Korea said that they already have nuclear weapons, the means to deliver them and that they are planning to test them. Do you have any comment on this?
Mr. Takashima: I am aware of such press reports, mainly from the United States media, but I have no comment at this point.
Question: Why not?
Mr. Takashima: I am not in a position to disclose or comment on other parties' statements. However, generally speaking, we would like to see that North Koreans would refrain from any sort of action which would worsen the situation surrounding North Korea for the sake of a peaceful and diplomatic solution to this issue. Hopefully they will lend an ear to the international calls to dismantle all of its nuclear weapons development program verifiably and irreversibly.
Question: So far, what is your evaluation of the talks in Beijing?
Mr. Takashima: As I have said, we very much appreciate the Chinese efforts on organizing these talks and we highly evaluate the outcome of these talks, namely the fact that all the participating parties emphasized the importance of having the Korean Peninsula denuclearized, seeking a peaceful and diplomatic solution to this issue and the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Japan would like to see that the talks be continued.
Question: Do you have some kind of schedule in mind whether the talks will be held again - in October, or anything of that sort?
Mr. Takashima: I am aware of that press report, but at this moment I do not have any official confirmation or any other information.
Remarks by Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, August 27
'Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, [Tokyo], August 27, 2003'; Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The North Korea issue is without question the one most in the forefront of the minds of the Japanese people. North Korean development of nuclear weapons and associated matters of missile development and proliferation present an enormous threat to the security of Japan and, in turn, Northeast Asia and international society as a whole. In addition, the intense anger over the abduction of Japanese nationals has by no means subsided. Most recently I had a very frank discussion in Seoul, and the Six-Party Talks just started this morning, in which North Korea, the United States and China are joined by Japan, the Republic of Korea and Russia.
I understand that the morning session is over, and the room has a table, a hexagon-shaped table. In the morning session, each party in alphabetical order spoke, and then later, after the brief greetings, they started to give statements. I do not know what each country said. I do not have more information than what I have just said, but if you have questions, I can tell you about Japan's position. We have been trying very hard to forge a consensus that no nuclear weapons should be allowed on the Korean Peninsula. All the five countries participating agree that that should be the case. We also feel that the issue should be solved peacefully and diplomatically. So on this, we also feel that in the negotiations, we also need to take care of what North Korea is concerned with, namely their security situation and supply of energy. If they conduct themselves on the assumption that they express themselves in the right manner to take care of our concerns on nuclear issues - and Japan is going to raise the abduction issue at the meeting-we would like the detailed discussion on the abduction issue to take place bilaterally.
Foreign Ministry Press Conference, August 26
Press Conference by Hatsuhisa Takashima, Press Secretary, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo, August 26; Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Hatsuhisa Takashima: The six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue will be held in Beijing, People's Republic of China for three days starting tomorrow. The Japanese delegation which is already in Beijing is headed by Mr. Mitoji Yabunaka, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Government of Japan sincerely hopes that the forthcoming six-party talks will be able to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully and diplomatically. In order to achieve this goal, the Japanese Government strongly urges the Government of North Korea to refrain from any activities that would worsen the situation and to respond positively to the international call for a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula. At the same time, the Government of Japan intends to raise the issue of abduction of Japanese nationals by the North Korean authorities at the six-party talks, while leaving the detailed discussion on this issue to the bilateral talks between Japan and North Korea, which we hope will be held in Beijing alongside the six-party talks. ...
Question: Is Japan having one-on-one talks with North Korea in Beijing?
Mr. Takashima: We hope so.
Question: What are the chances of Japan and North Korea resolving the abduction issue?
Mr. Takashima: As I have said, the Japanese delegation intends to raise the issue of abduction at the six-party talks as one of the main agenda items to be discussed with the North Korean side. We will also mention that the Japanese side's intention is to have a detailed discussion on abduction cases with North Korea on a bilateral basis; in other words, a one-to-one meeting. ...
Question: Is Japan offering any concessions?
Mr. Takashima: We are not offering any sort of concession because this is a crime committed by the state. We do not think that any sort of concession or reward should be given.
Question: Not even food aid or rice or anything like that?
Mr. Takashima: We have been making it very clear that without resolving this abduction issue as well as the nuclear issue, we will not extend any sort of assistance to North Korea including food or energy. However, if and when they come up with a positive response to these issues which would lead to the resolving of the situation, then normalization of the relations will become possible. After achieving normalization, we would extend economic assistance to North Korea.
Question: The North Korean government is asking the United States to give security guarantees to its regime. Is Japan also going to ask the US to accept such an offer so that the situation may be resolved more quickly?
Mr. Takashima: Japan, the US and also the Republic of Korea have been coordinating their policies vis-à-vis North Korea. My understanding is that currently, the three delegations are holding discussions on how to deal with the forthcoming six-party talks in Beijing. Therefore, the issue of what to do with this North Korean request for assurance of security and how to deal with it will be one of the main subjects to be discussed among the three delegations. However, I am not prepared to give any details of the discussions because it is still a matter to be negotiated. Therefore, we are not in a position to disclose one way or another about our position.
Question: Does Japan have a basic policy about the destiny of the North Korean regime, so to speak?
Mr. Takashima: The North Korean regime or its form of administration has to be decided by the people of North Korea. It should not be decided by outside forces. That is our position.
Question: Does that mean indirectly that it should be guaranteed that no foreign country may interfere in the government system of North Korea? Does that not include security guarantee?
Mr. Takashima: What we have been saying is that this issue should be resolved diplomatically and peacefully, and we have no intention of using military force to resolve this issue. We have no intention to do anything with the government system in North Korea.
Question: Is this despite the fact that you claimed that they are developing arms of mass destruction?
Mr. Takashima: That is the reason why we are now negotiating with them to resolve this issue.
Remarks by Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, September 1
'Transcript of the Interview Granted by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Igor Ivanov to Russian and Foreign Media, September 1, 2003', Russian Foreign Ministry transcript, Ministry Document 1878-01-09-2003, http://www.mid.ru.
Question: How do you assess the outcome of the talks on North Korean problems, and is there a chance that there will be the next round?
Foreign Minister Ivanov: We feel that the very holding of the talks on Korean problems in a six-nation format is an important element in the efforts of the international community, which are directed to the creation of a stable situation on the Korean Peninsula. Actually we hadn't expected any breakthrough at these talks, as this was but the first round. But it's important that the dialogue is going on and it's important that this dialogue should continue. We therefore expect that the participants of the six-way format will soon be able to agree on the date for continuing these talks. Russia favors continuation of the talks, and the search for mutually acceptable solutions which would help create a stable situation on the Korean Peninsula. I think that the other participants of these talks also generally share this approach.
Foreign Ministry Statement, August 29
'On the Six-Nation Talks Held in Beijing', Russian Foreign Ministry Statement, Document 1869-29-08-2003, August 29; Foreign Ministry website, http://www.mid.ru.
Talks took place in Beijing on August 27-29, 2003, between the delegations of Russia, the DPRK, the PRC, the Republic of Korea, the US and Japan on Korean problems. The Russian delegation was headed by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Alexander Losyukov.
In the course of the talks, held in a frank atmosphere, the delegations stated their positions on the issues that constituted the subject of talks, and conducted bilateral contacts with one another.
Participants declared their commitment to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and to hold negotiations aimed at ensuring its denuclearized status. Opinion was expressed that the concerns of the DPRK and other participating countries must be taken into account. In this context the parties noted the necessity to search for an integrated solution of existing problems and to help establish a favorable environment for economic cooperation and development.
The necessity was emphasized of working out a just package solution based on the principles of a stage-by-stage process and a parallel, synchronized implementation of coordinated measures by the concerned parties. The delegations declared that their countries would not take any actions exacerbating the situation.
Consultations regarding the next round of talks will be held via diplomatic channels.
Participants expressed gratitude to the Chinese side for the organization of the negotiations.
The Russian side assesses the talks as useful ones that helped to understand better the positions of each other, and intends to do everything necessary for their constructive continuation in the interest of all the participating countries, for peace and stability in the region.
Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, remarks to press after close of meeting, August 29
Despite a semblance of calm, some sort of internal intrigue and tension were making themselves felt at the talks ... A very big distance separates the positions of the DPRK and the USA. There is a perception among Russian diplomats that Washington ought to go the extra mile on certain aspects to solve the problem. The fact that the exchange of views did take place and that it is possible for us to move on to the next round of talks is a result that is not at all bad.
Introductory Remarks by Deputy Foreign Minister Losyukov, August 27
'Introduction Remarks by Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Losyukov at the Opening of the Six-Way Talks in Beijing, August 27, 2003'; Russian Foreign Ministry text, Foreign Ministry Document 1853-28-08-2003, August 28.
I would like first of all to greet all the participants in the six-way talks in Peking on resolving the situation on the Korean Peninsula and express the hope that the opportunity opening as a result of the long joint efforts to examine all the aspects of this complicated problem "at the round table" will successfully be used in the interests of peace and stability in this important area of the world.
I address words of especial gratitude to our Chinese colleagues who have exerted considerable efforts to organize and hold the talks and have provided excellent facilities for our work.
We consider that the present meeting should mark the start of a serious, meaningful multilateral and bilateral dialogue, the outcome of which, in its turn, will be a new quality of the situation in Korea and around it.
The Russian representatives have arrived in Beijing with an intention to contribute whatever they can to this important job, equally necessary for all of us, and also with the conviction that it will turn out to be fruitful if all the participants of this round without exception show goodwill and a constructive approach.
As Confucius said, "It is better to light a candle than to damn darkness." It is important that we should be ready, if necessary, to take after the first step a second and a third energetic steps towards the safeguarding of a lasting peace, the de-nuclearized status of the Korean Peninsula, stability and equal security for all the states located in this region.
Three years ago we became witnesses of the promising shifts in inter-Korean relations that marked the beginning of a meaningful intra-national dialogue and the drawing closer of both parts of Korea. This tendency ought to be restored. Here, in Beijing, we perceive our task by joint efforts to establish and strengthen an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding between North and South which would become an earnest of security and stability of the whole Northeast Asia region and of its normal political and economic development. This would fully meet the interests of Russia.
A negotiated settlement of the knotty issues on the Korean Peninsula is the only real way to solve the deep problems existing there. We hope that the step on this road that we are together taking today will lead us to the objective set.
The Russian delegation is ready for constructive work and it is open for active cooperation with all the participants of our talks.
Message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, August 27
'Secretary-General welcomes six-party talks in Beijing, hopes process strengthens peace on Korean peninsular', message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the participants of the six-party talks in Beijing, UN Press SG/SM/8832, August 27.
I welcome the beginning of the six-party talks in Beijing. This is an encouraging development that offers testimony to the will of your respective governments to find a negotiated solution to the crucial problems of the region. There is much confidence in your diplomatic skills and I wish you success in your deliberations. I also want to assure you of my active support for your work.
I am hopeful that this process, however challenging and complicated it may be, will lead to solutions to your mutual and bilateral concerns, reducing tensions, and strengthening peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.
© 2003 The Acronym Institute.