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Six Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear programme, Selected Comment, July 26 - August 7, 2005

The first phase of the fourth round of Six Party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme began on July 26 and ajourned on August 7, 2005. The talks were scheduled to resume on August 29, 2005. A selection of comments from the six parties is available below:


Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei Issues Chairman's Statement on the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks and Answers Questions from Chinese and Foreign Journalists, August 7, 2005

I. Vice Foreign Minister Wu, the first phase of this round of six-party talks has recessed. What goal should be achieved to mark the end of the fourth round of six-party talks? Currently how far are the six parties from that goal? (CCTV)

The general goal of the six-party talks is to realize denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It is both a consensus of the six parties and the general task of the six-party talks. Nobody is able to predict when this goal will be achieved, but I'm sure that we will reach it. Our expectation of the fourth round of six-party talks is to work out a roadmap for building a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. To that end all the six parties have made positive efforts during the past 13 days. If we are climbing a mountain, we've already seen the peak of it. We decide to take a recess so that we can reach the peak more smoothly. This is a very important and positive outcome of the first phase of this round of talks.

II. Do you think the recess will impact the momentum of the six-party talks? (Yonhap News Agency)

No, I don't think so. Many consensuses have been reached during the talks up to now and those consensuses are based upon, yet unparalleled by the previous three rounds of talks. We've already won a battle in the long and arduous journey. Undoubtedly the six parties still hold differences on some major issues, but we agreed to resume the talks, which indicates that we are not afraid of those differences but believe we are able to resolve them.

III. How can you ensure that all the parties will promise to make further efforts based on the existing achievements so that they will not start from scrap after the talks resume? What preparations will the six parties make during the recess for the next phase of the talks? (Associated Press)

During the recess, the delegations will report the talks to their governments respectively to study proper solutions of their differences. It is a must for resolving such a big issue as the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. During the suspension all the parties will continue keeping communications and consultations and make joint efforts to achieve results after the resumption of the talks. Now I am not in a position to guarantee that we can reach agreement on a joint document after the fourth round of talks resumes. I also want to stress that whether the six parties can sign a joint document is not a symbol for the success or failure of this round of six-party talks. Our discussions over the joint document have enhanced understanding and expanded consensus. The basic principle of the six-party talks is to reach consensus through consultations and all the issues must be agreed by consensus. Any party has the veto power, which has brought some difficulties to the smooth proceeding of the talks. However, we must overcome those difficulties. The concern of any party should be the common concern of all the parties. Consensus can be reached only when the concern of every party is addressed.

IV. After 13 days this round of six-party talks has yet not reached agreement on a joint document and all the parties still hold big differences. Does it mean that the framework of the six-party talks has become insignificant or not? The Japanese delegation raised the hostage-taking issue during this round of talks and after the recess Japan prepares to continue seeking solution of that issue within the framework of the six-party talks. What impact will it have upon the next phase of the six-party talks? (Nikkei Net)

First I want to tell you a news that the DPRK and the Japanese delegations are holding a meeting. The major agenda of the six-party talks is to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and other issues can be solved through bilateral channels. It is a consistent position of China and such a position is respected and understood by the Japanese delegation. I can neither say for sure when we will reach agreement on a joint document nor ensure we will reach the agreement after resumption of the fourth round of talks, but I believe that one day we will reach the agreement.

Source: China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/.

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North Korea

U.S. Urged to Sincerely Approach Six-party Talks

Pyongyang, July 16 (KCNA) -- The United States should abandon its narrow-minded attitude and sincerely approach the six-way talks to be resumed with so much effort so that they may play their role. The Solidarity for Implementing the South-North Joint Declaration said this in a statement titled "The U.S. should make a fundamental switchover in its attitude" released on July 11.

Recalling the fact that the contact was made between the heads of the delegations of the DPRK and the U.S. to the talks in Beijing on July 9 and an agreement was reached to resume the talks, the statement said that however, one cannot be yet optimistic about the prospect of the talks.

The final goal of the talks is to achieve lasting peace and stability and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the statement noted, and continued:

What is important for the substantial progress of the talks above all is for the U.S. to make a switchover in its attitude.

If the U.S. persists in its hard-line approach towards the talks, the talks will not prove fruitful no matter how frequently they take place. It should respect its dialogue partner and sincerely approach the talks. We will intensify the anti-U.S. and anti-war struggle for the withdrawal of the U.S. forces, closely following its attitude towards the talks.

Source: Korean Central News Agency, http://www.kcna.co.jp.

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Press Conference by Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, August 5, 2005

Question: On the Six-Party Talks, do you have any concerns that the talks might be suspended or that they will be unable to produce an outcome document?

Minister: Obviously, I'm concerned, but I am informed that the outcome of last night's meeting was a unanimous affirmation among the six parties to work towards the achievement of a concrete outcome.

Source: Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.mofa.go.jp.

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, August 2, 2005

Q: Today is the beginning of the second week since the resumption of the Six-Party Talks on North Korean Issues. What is your opinion of its state of progress? Is it taking longer than you expected? Is it within a predictable range? We would like to know your frank opinion.

Minister: I am extremely reluctant to say so, but the progress of the Six-Party Talks on North Korean Issues is within a predictable range. As I have already stated, the progress is completely dependent on North Korea's actions. The duration of the talks depends on how seriously they view various issues. From this standpoint, I believe that the Six-Party Talks on North Korean Issues are progressing within a predictable range, but I do not assume that the talks will be delayed at the outset itself. To begin with, I strongly believe that the first meeting after resumption will be fruitful. As a matter of course, this week will prove to be a make-or-break stage in the progress of the talks.

Source: Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.mofa.go.jp.

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Interview of Head of Russian Delegation at Six-Party Talks in Beijing and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Alexeyev with ITAR-TASS, August 8, 2005

Question: What are the results of the six-party talks on the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula in Beijing?

Alexander Alexeyev: All the delegations have noted progress. At the same time, on a number of issues consensus wasn't reached. A recess is now declared, as the delegations need to take counsel in their capitals on the issues still unresolved.

Further progress in the talks will largely depend on the effectiveness of upcoming contacts between the delegations, as the decision was taken to carry on consultations in the bilateral format. From how the consultations proceed and with what intensity and what is discussed at them, it will be possible to conclude whether the contradictions will be resolved before August 29 or it will take more time.

In Beijing all the delegations parted with the impression that the remaining issues, and they are not that many, can be attempted to be solved before the end of August. The Chinese side will arrange the exact date for resumption of the fourth round with the other participants in the talks.

Question: Will any document be adopted at the end of the talks?

Alexander Alexeyev: A definitive final document has not been agreed, one can so far talk about its considerable part having been elaborated. We do hope that it will be adopted at the end of the fourth round of talks.

Source: Russia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.russianembassy.org.

Statement by the Head of the Russian Delegation at the Six-Party Talks, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Alexeyev, Beijing, July 27, 2005

Esteemed Mr. Chairman, Esteemed colleagues,

The agreement to hold this round, as well as the meetings held yesterday and on the eve of its opening between delegations bear out the correctness of the decision to restart the negotiation process and the absence of ways and means to solve the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula other than a patient and keen dialogue, based on its participants' good will, and their readiness for compromises. The common sense that has prevailed and the active efforts by all the parties have helped to overcome a number of dramatic moments which the "six-party format" had gone through during the past year. In this connection I would like to once again thank all the delegations, which have made their contribution to having the negotiation process resumed, and primarily the Chinese side for the hospitality and the diplomatic work done.

The Russian Federation is deeply interested in a just settlement of the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula, directly bordering on Russia's Far East. Therefore we consider that six-party talks should continue until a comprehensive solution has been achieved to all the issues related to ensuring a nuclear-weapons-free Korean Peninsula, gradually normalizing relations between the DPRK and the US and establishing conditions for the ongoing economic development of the DPRK and the region as a whole.

Acquaintance with the positions of our partners, which were set forth in the course of the bilateral contacts and during their statements, gives us grounds to conclude as follows: that all the participants of the six-party process share its chief objective, that of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. So, in this context, it appears completely justified, the agenda suggested by the organizers of this round.

We hold that for continued productive work and to move our talks forward we need at this round to start a serious discussion, and where possible, agree on what is to be incorporated in the concept "denuclearization," on what principles it will be carried out, and what stages the parties have yet to cover in order to achieve the ultimate objective. Our vision on that point is as follows: the denuclearization must embrace all the nuclear programs and militarily focused experiments, as well as an activity that has or might have a relationship to nuclear weapons programs, including the work on the development, manufacture and storage of nuclear devices. Undoubtedly, the process of denuclearization has to be verifiable and synchronized by states. It would be well in this connection to return to the still relevant "word for word, action for action" principle. And as the first stage of denuclearization to again consider the idea of a freeze on the DPRK nuclear program, that has to verifiable, transparent and synchronized with measures in response, presupposing a normalization of the situation around the DPRK and the rendering to it of energy and other assistance. In this connection the obligations of North and South Korea regarding denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which they assumed in the Joint Declaration of 1992, merit the closest attention and profound analysis, in our opinion. We consider it advisable to agree that the Korean sides should hold consultations on the establishment and modalities of a verification mechanisms which will effect the appropriate monitoring of the freeze on, and a subsequent dismantling and termination on the Korean Peninsula of nuclear programs having a relationship to military activity, or uranium and plutonium experiments that might be militarily significant.

In our opinion, if we managed in principle to work out a common approach towards the questions related to the accomplishment of denuclearization and write it down in a joint final document, the idea of whose adoption we entirely support, this would constitute a real and weighty result of the work of the fourth round. As far as the details of the realization of our possible agreements are concerned, including the issues of the launching of a denuclearization mechanism, the Working Group could take this up in the future, for which we could also prescribe specific instructions in the final document.

It would also be important if we succeeded in documenting what appears to us to be the prevalent sentiments among the participants of the talks to build our relations with each other on the basis of the principles of peaceful coexistence and other universally recognized rules of international law with an eye on a full normalization of relations in the future. In our view, having a clear and distinct ultimate guideline, it is significantly easier to tackle both the multilateral problems of mutual concern and the questions of a bilateral nature.

We are convinced that all the delegations came to Beijing with a firm intention to achieve real results and outline ways of further advancing the six-party process in order to impart to it an irreversible character. In this connection we expect that all the participants will show maximum political will, flexibility and constructivism. Ideally we would like to hear from our North Korean partners a confirmation of their striving to lead matters towards a freeze on and subsequently the total dismantling of all their military nuclear programs in exchange for reciprocal steps. From the US colleagues we expect a confirmation of their readiness to build their relations with the DPRK in the spirit of coexistence and a gradual normalization of bilateral relations. We hope that the South Korean initiative to render energy assistance to the DPRK will also find its use and exert a positive influence on the course of the negotiation process. For its part the Russian delegation is ready to confirm its intention to consider the possibility of providing energy assistance to the DPRK together with the other participants of the talks under a comprehensive plan for settlement of the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula.

We consider that, given a shared keen disposition to achieve concrete results, the elaboration of mutual agreements is fully possible. We also believe that in the course of our further discussions we shall manage to make up our minds as to the date for the next round as well. This date has to be connected with the results of the work of the Working Group. The Working Group itself could be convened not latter than the middle of September, tasking it with an expert elaboration of necessary concrete measures at the first stage of denuclearization (meaning a freeze, verification measures, compensations, initial steps along the road of normalization of relations between the US and the DPRK, other questions). That is at the expert level there should be developed a "basket" of measures or a "roadmap" or "package agreements," where the concrete gradual measures of movement towards the ultimate objective of the six-party process will be designated. And this work has to start as soon as possible.

Source: Russia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.russianembassy.org.

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South Korea

No official statements made available on the Foreign Ministry website during the fourth round of talks. See: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Korean Foreign Ministry Ban Ki-Moon on North Korea, July 13, 2005 for background.

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United States

See also: http://www.state.gov/p/eap/regional/c15456.htm for a full set of US briefings and transcripts on the fourth round of Six Party Talks.

'Six-Party Talks Make Progress, But Gaps in Agreement Remain', US Department of State, Washington File, August 7, 2005.

Transcript of Assistant Secretary [of State] Christopher Hill's August 7 press briefing:

Six Party Talks
Early Afternoon Transit to St. Regis
August 7, 2005

A/S [assistant secretary] Hill: I think you heard that the Chinese government today announced that the talks would be put into recess, and this means that they will reconvene toward the end of August. I thought we made a lot of progress. As you know, the Six Party Talks were inexplicably delayed for 13 months, and so during the last 13 days I think we were able to achieve a lot of consensus on some issues, but ultimately we were not able to finish the job and not able to bridge remaining gaps.

I think, on the positive side, it was clear the DPRK understands it does need to get rid of its nuclear weapons, but the problem -- in the last few days, it began to emerge that the problem with reaching an agreement was not just the issue of their desire to retain the right to develop commercial or so-called peaceful energy, but also they began to insist on a light water reactor, and indeed wanted to have their desire for a light water reactor included in the agreement. This was an issue on which the DPRK delegation parted company with the rest of the delegations. So, in these last couple of days it was decided that probably the best thing to do would be to put the talks into recess, and give the DPRK delegation a chance to go back to Pyongyang, to sit down, to talk to the authorities there, to go through the various issues.

This is a very generous package for the DPRK. This package would virtually solve their energy problems. It would address many of their economic problems. It would address many of their issues in international normalization with the international community, including bilateral normalizations as well as beginning a process of rejoining international organizations. It's a very generous package. So, I think to those of us the issue of getting rid of nuclear weapons should be an obvious one, should be an easy one, but this is a country that has been engaged in nuclear weapons programs for some 20 or 30 years, so it obviously a difficult decision.

I hope they will use this recess time wisely, go back and think hard and long about what to do, and come back in this same month of August ready to make that decision to do away with its weapons and to reach agreement with the rest of us on the text of this agreement. In short, we still have a lot of work to do, but I think there's progress there. And, I think there is a real logic to try to reach this agreement, a logic for everybody, and so I'm still very hopeful that we can ultimately arrive at it. So, I think you can now all go home. [Laughter]

Question: It sounds like the onus is completely on North Korea to make a change or come to the table with something new. Does America not feel that it has any wiggle room?

A/S Hill: Well, at this point the issue came down to North Korea, the DPRK, wanting not only to preserve their right to have use of nuclear energy, but also specifically to have a right to light water reactors. And, light water reactors are simply not on the table. So, I'm not sure what wiggle room we would have in that regard. I think the Chinese draft that was circulated a few days ago is an excellent basis for reaching an agreement. We can certainly work with it. All the other delegations can work with it. The DPRK has said they will also work with it. So, I think sometimes these are big decisions, and one shouldn't underestimate the fact that they've been at these programs for some 20 or 30 years. It's not easy to give those up in the course of a 13-day negotiation. So, I hope they go back and take some time to think about it and come back and maybe we can take care of the - finish the job.

Question: Mr. Hill would the US be willing to consider to allow North Korea to have the option down the road to exercise that?

A/S Hill: Look, our position on this issue is quite clear and I think what we really need to focus everyone on is denuclearization. That is, we need to get these terrible weapons [sound of cell phone ringing] taken off the board, to get these weapons, and these cell phones, [quiet laughter] out of here. So, to be talking about theoretical uses of nuclear weapons - of nuclear energy, excuse me, of nuclear energy - once the DPRK eventually returns to the NPT - questions like that - I think it is much better to focus on the task at hand, which is to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons. These are weapons that - the only weapons that - nuclear weapons - that threaten North Korea's future, are its own nuclear weapons, and so for their benefit and for everyone else's I hope we can get this agreement and begin the process to bring that country - which has so many problems - to bring that country back into the international system.

Question: At the next session do you talk of [inaudible] or do you think it is the wrong time to try to go beyond that?

A/S Hill: I think this agreement is - we're going to focus on the so-called fourth draft - I guess that's an unlucky number in Chinese terms [laughter] - but we're going to focus on that fourth draft. We really do believe it's the basis for an agreement on principles, and as I've said before we have to have very clear principles, so we know what the principles are, we know clearly where we are going. And what you're suggesting is that perhaps we can get to that agreement on principles and move on forward. And what I would encourage is that if we can get this agreement by the end of August, quickly thereafter, in September, we would move to the next stage. We do have in mind the next round of talks- the so-called fifth round of the Six Party Talks. We would anticipate starting very early fall, as early as September we would think, but we have to get through these principles.

Anyone who's been in negotiation, when you spend 12, 13 sleepless nights, you really want to get to an agreement and then move on to the next stage. But, this is a pretty significant deal for North Korea to think about, and so it is quite appropriate that they take some time, go back to their capital, explain to people in their capital that, for example, the light water reactor is simply not on the table. I think their delegation here in the Diaoyutai understood that - in the Chinese guesthouse understand that - but perhaps people in Pyongyang need to hear that directly. So, I don't think we should be surprised that we need a little time to go back to capitals. And again, the Chinese are going to be quite insistent on getting us all back together by the end of the month to finish this job.

Question: Mr. Secretary are you basically saying that you can go into a fifth round as early as September? You come back and you get an agreement and you go straight into the talks?

A/S Hill: Well, there's 30 days in September [laughter], and if we get going at the end of August, then I do not anticipate another thirteen-day - thirteen-day marathon - I was going to say something else [laughter] - thirteen-day marathon. I would hope that based on that, we could move rather quickly, within weeks, not months, to negotiate it, to put it all together in an actual agreement which has implementation clauses, which deals with the complex subjects of verification. We have enough clarity from this round, from the Chinese draft, that we know what essentially is agreed and what essentially remains in brackets, to use the jargon of international agreements, that we know what we need to begin to think about. So, we know, for example, that we are going to have to think about verification regimes, and we have an idea of what precise questions need to asked and what answers need to be achieved. I think we can begin the prep work very early on. So, I don't think it's unrealistic to talk about the fifth round happened as early as September.

Question: If North Korea didn't change their position would you consider other options, such as...?

A/S Hill: I think there are always other options. I said before that the only options we really don't have it to forget about this problem. We have to solve this problem, so there are always other options, but I think, again, not to be too repetitive, I think we have made some progress here and I think we can continue on this option.

Question: Mr. Hill, Mr. Kim just said that he is willing to engage in bilateral contacts with the United States [inaudible] during these three weeks...

A/S Hill: Which Mr. Kim? There are a lot of those? [Laughter]

Question: The chief negotiator Kim.

A/S Hill: I see. Yeah.

Question: And he also said the key will persuading the United States to allow North Korea to use peaceful nuclear power.

A/S Hill: Is that a question or are you trying to inform me of something? [laughter]

Question: Just wondering what your response is to those two points.

A/S Hill: Well, I think our position on the latter point is well known, this issue of nuclear power and the light water reactors that they raised. With regard to the contacts, sure, we'll continue to be in contact and we'll continue to share our views. We want to get this done, and we're not going to let issues of protocol and contacts get in the way. We're going to work aggressively to take care of this problem. I think diplomacy does have an aggressive side to it, and I think we're going to work on this. Whether we can get through some of the issues you mention on peaceful use of nuclear energy, well, that's obviously going to be a challenge. But I would caution you not to think that that is the only challenge. There are some basic issues we need to get through.

Question: Mr. Hill, comparing with the case of Iran and India, with its serious violation of [inaudible] party [inaudible] treaty and potential violation of the treaty, some critics pointing out the inconsistency of the policy of the United States with non-proliferation policy. Could you explain...

A/S Hill: Well, you obviously have a much better global strategic sense than I do. I'm just trying to struggle through this draft agreement. I'm just sort of slogging my way through one word at a time, one paragraph at a time. I think we can get there. I think it's an agreement - it's language that will work. I think I'll leave it to people like yourself to determine whether it's consistent with what we are doing with India or Iran, but I do believe it can work for everybody, including for our policy, so I'm not too concerned about that.

Question: Also is it the right understanding that the fourth draft is still standing? That...

A/S Hill: Yes, the fourth draft is the basis on which we are continuing to work, and as I said there is a lot of consensus on the fourth draft. The issue - frankly the DPRK would like to put in light water reactors in the fourth draft, and no one else wants to do that, including the ROK, which has a rather significant energy proposal which would meet North Korea's energy needs through conventional means. It's on the basis of that proposal that the Republic of Korea has said that it really is not interested in providing light water reactors, because it has solved the problem - that is, the problem of supplying energy - by other means. Now, if the DPRK is interested in light water reactors not because of energy, or not because of electricity or need for electricity, but rather for something else, well we'd better know what that is.

Question: [Inaudible] you said that you will continue to be in contact with the North Koreans. Do you plan you contact them during the recess?

A/S Hill: I told the North Korean delegate, head of delegation, Kim Gye Gwan, that I am prepared to be in touch with him, I'm prepared to work on this issue. We are still in the framework of the Six Party Talks. There is no question about it. We don't have any specific plans, but we really want to solve this. I really want to figure out how we can get to solving this so that when we meet again on the week the 29th of August, we will not have to spend thirteen days at it, but more like thirteen hours, or thirteen minutes. [laughter] But what we can't do is spend another thirteen months doing nothing.

Question: Over the next 3 weeks, will you go back to Washington to consider other topics to convince the North Koreans to agree, or do you think that the Chinese have something else that they can do?

A/S Hill: Well, I had a good discussion with the Chinese, and I think we really see eye to eye on this and we really have the same interests on this. I would say our relationship with China is better as a result of the Six Party process. This is one of the common areas, and I would hope that China will do all it can - and we are certainly doing all we can - to try to wrap up this issue and move on to the next issue. Thank you very much.

Question: Are you leaving tonight, sir?

A/S Hill: I'm leaving tonight. Absolutely.

Question: Are you going to Seoul?

Question: What time?

A/S Hill: I don't know what time. No, actually, I'm going to Washington, D.C. I got to get to work tomorrow. [laughter]

Question: Will you be meeting with President Bush? Will you be briefing Pres. Bush right away?

Hill: I think he's in Texas, isn't he? Thank you all very much.

Question: Sir, may I ask you just one more question?

A/S Hill: Yeah, yeah.

Question: After 13 days of talk, what is your position about bringing this to the UN Security Counsel?

A/S Hill: Look, we're on this track. That's always an option. I think everyone reserves that option. That's everyone's right to do that, but we are working through the Six Party process. We deal with that. We made some headway here and we've just got to keep at it. And as I've said as long as we feel there's progress in this process we'll stick with it. And if there isn't, you know, we'll look at some other options. Thank you very much.

Question: Do you feel stronger about this, than before?

A/S Hill: I feel stronger? Well, I've been a believer is the Six Party process for a while. I think it's the best way to go. Certainly these thirteen days have not diminished my belief that the Six Party process is the right approach. But, we have to see if it gets us there. Thanks very much.

Source: US Department of State, Washington File, http://usinfo.state.gov.

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