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US Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill on the fifth round of Six Party Talks, November 11, 2005

'State's Hill Upbeat but Urges Patience as Six-Party Talks Resume', Washington File, November 11, 2005.

Following is the full transcript of the assistant secretary's press briefing:

Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill

Six Party Talks
End of Talks Transit - Traders Hotel
Beijing, China

November 11, 2005

A/S Hill: Hi, how are you? We just completed the first session of the fifth round. The Chinese hosts put together a Chairman's statement to describe the round. First of all, I would like to say that the Chinese government did a truly excellent job in doing the preparations for this and making sure that everybody was there and that everyone was there on time. They also played a very important role as the Secretariat in organizing the meetings and in, ultimately, putting together the Chairman's statement.

As I said, as all of us said at the beginning of this session, we were not expecting to make any major breakthroughs. This was essentially a three-day session designed to follow up on the September 19th statement and to assess where we are and where we are going. I think it was a very businesslike three days. There were very few acrimonious words and certainly, I think, a real commitment to the process. In that sense I think it was a very useful three days.

On the other hand, three days does not provide very much time during which to set out the way forward, to set out a roadmap or a detailed plan of how we are going to go from here. I think there was agreement among all the parties that we will meet again. We do have a lot of work to do. It's something that we are going to have to take three days to do because we really have to design an implementation plan from these principles. We had a pretty full discussion of various ideas for how we could implement the principles. I think I mentioned to you before that there were some very good ideas on how to do this. But, we need now to sit down in the second session to hammer out a work plan and then get on with the task.

The purpose of this whole endeavor is the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula, namely that the DPRK should get rid of these nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons programs, all nuclear programs, actually. We clearly have to measure our success against achieving that goal so we still have a way to go here. I think it really shows the six-party process is alive and well. I know I look forward to reporting directly to Secretary Rice and, indeed, to President Bush when both of them are in the region next week, to discuss the way forward. It's a very strong diplomatic process. It continues to enjoy very active support of all its participants. Everyone was there with ideas. Again, the atmosphere was very good and the commitment to progress is considerable. So, I'll take a couple of questions.

Question: Why couldn't you set a time for the next session of this round?

A/S Hill: We had some discussions about the timetable and we were looking at the possibility of what we could do in December. But, the calendar just gets very full. First of all, five of the six delegations are involved with the APEC summit meeting coming up next week. The U.S. has a Thanksgiving holiday the following week. The Christmas holidays start toward the end of December. Right in the middle of December is the East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur. So, we looked at dates earlier in December but our concern is that we don't want to try to squeeze this in to another 72-hour period.

We really do need more time because when you get into the implementation -- for example, I had a discussion today with my DPRK counterpart. Just looking at the types of things that the DPRK is going to have to do with respect to its nuclear systems, we're going to have to figure out how to make sure there's a complete declaration of their programs. We're going to have to come up with a plan of how to dismantle these programs. We're going to have to come up with a plan on how to verify the dismantlement. This is not your "three day and out" type job.

We did discuss the possibility, and we might do this, actually, of having some working groups meet in the meantime because there's so many technical issues involved. So, we might have some working groups go ahead and have some discussions on some of these issues so that some of this sort of technical underbrush can be worked on. Basically, in terms of naming dates, we are not able to do that today because we all thought that there's just a lot of work ahead of us.

Question: Did you broadly agree on forming working groups?

A/S Hill: We discussed it and there was some consideration of putting that into the Chairman's statement. The concern was, if we put working groups into the Chairman's statement the next question would be what working groups are those going to be? Since we were not able at that point to name the working groups we decided not to go ahead and put them in the actual statement. But, we did have a discussion of the utility of working groups.

Question: So what would you say you have achieved for the last 72 hours?

A/S Hill: Well, to some extent what we achieved is to realize how much work we have ahead of us and how complex this issue is going to be in terms of identifying the work plan for de-nuclearization. It was clear that 72 hours was not enough time to have a full solution to any of this. I thought it was useful to meet now. Certainly, we were concerned about this problem even before the 72-hour session began. We were concerned about the problem that it would take more time but we didn't want to put it off until after APEC because that would be still another two weeks. You recall on September 19 we agreed that we would meet in early November. So, we would have missed this 72-hour window to have a discussion and then that would have been another 72 hours lost in the beginning of December or whenever we would have met again.

Question: Mr. Secretary, would it be accurate to say that there was a stalemate over Yongbyon? That basically North Korea said that there would be no suspension until there was a full implementation (inaudible)?

A/S Hill: I think what the DPRK is saying is that stopping their programs is part of the overall obligations and if they're going to take a step to stop programs then they expect corresponding steps on our part. Our view is that stopping their programs is simply something they have to do if they are going to start dismantling the programs. We don't want to get into a situation where they stop the programs, in short freeze the programs, and then expect us to compensate them for a freeze. Our view is that they should be stopping their programs immediately with the understanding that anything they're producing, any type of plutonium, is, in fact, making the problem worse and, in fact, will have to be returned and destroyed at the end of the day. We'd like them to do it but we are not prepared to make a separate agreement for them to freeze programs.

Question: So if we make this breakthrough for next time... it seems like this is the same problem as last time.

A/S Hill: The problem last time was to hammer out the principles of what it was that we were doing, which elements we were putting into this overall agreement. So, it wasn't the same problem. The DPRK has rather kept to their position that they will keep their programs going until there is a final implementation plan on how to take them apart. We would argue that it does not keep the status quo, that, in fact, it makes it worse because there is more plutonium material today than there was on September 19. But, we are not prepared to launch a separate negotiation to have a freeze because freezing programs does not solve this problem. We've got to get rid of these things.

Question: How was the so-called Macao bank issue today?

A/S Hill: Well, this came up this week and the DPRK officials expressed their concern about the fact that U.S. regulators had issued a so-called section 311 which prohibits U.S. financial institutions from dealing, in this case, with a bank based in Macao. By the way, there are other such section 311's against banks in other parts of the world having nothing to do with North Korea. From what I understand when that decision was made that put that bank in Macao into some trouble, and the Chinese banking authorities had to freeze the assets of that.

What we tried to do with the DPRK delegation is to first of all explain that banking sector issues like that are not in the purview of the six party talks. I am not a banking sector expert. We got them some material and we are prepared to give them some other material on this. These are issues relating to criminal activities. These are money-laundering questions that come up all over the world. I think it also fair to say that if you're a country that's going to be engaged in producing weapons of mass destruction, if you're a country that going to pull out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, on your own with no, from our point of view, legal basis for doing that and then to be producing weapons of mass destruction you should not be surprised if your financial transactions are going to get carefully looked at. It's not directly related but I think it is, in a broader sense, related to an overall pattern of behavior. I think the best thing that the DPRK can do to avoid these issues involving illegal activities is to stop committing illegal activities. It was a discussion point but I would not argue that it was the main discussion point.

Question: Mr. Secretary, just to follow up on that, did they essentially confirm then that they have money in that bank?

A/S Hill: In the Banco Delta Asia? I think you have to ask them but they were certainly concerned enough about that bank that I would assume that is a fact.

Question: I wonder if the so-called bank issue was an obstacle to you in setting a date for the next round?

A/S Hill: I don't believe that was an obstacle to setting a date. I had issues about how to set a date. I know my counterparts did. Everyone started looking a their calendars and looking at very full calendars in December. I can't say that was an obstacle. The DPRK delegation is often referring to the overall atmosphere of the talks and whether they see a good atmosphere or a not so good atmosphere and always urging that there be a good atmosphere in order to make progress. My point is, if you make progress there will be a good atmosphere. They are kind of looking at it from the wrong end in that the best way to have a good atmosphere is to make progress.

Question: Mr. Ambassador, you say that the expectation wasn't so high this time but I think you must have envisioned a kind of a benchmark to accomplish before you came here. Did you achieve any of the benchmarks that you envisioned before you came here?

A/S Hill: Well, yes we did. Our expectations were not high for 72 hours because we knew what was involved in this and I think, in fact, that you and I had that discussion. Earlier on you asked the question three days ago and I made very clear that I thought we should keep our expectations very low.

Did I achieve our benchmarks? I did in the sense that we were able to have a meeting together, all six sides, and we were able to discuss the way forward and we were able to discuss various ideas for how to go forward. I know the Japanese delegation put forward a very good approach in terms of laying out several tracks. The ROK delegation also put together a very positive type of approach where they essentially created a matrix and took item from the principle and turned it into an implementation item: that is, how you could take a principle and turn it into an implementation. And, a number of other delegations, including my own, had some thoughts on this but we're going to have a lot of homework ahead of us. I suspect we are going to have to have some technical meetings to have some fuller discussion. We had some of these bilateral meetings in the course of the last few weeks but, based on this 72-hour meeting here, I think we are going to have to have more of these technical discussions to really lay out a very clear roadmap in the specific areas that we are talking about such as de-nuclearization.

Question: You say the technical discussion, that means before the next plenary?

A/S Hill: Yes, I think we need a lot of technical discussions before the next plenary because, if we are going to make progress in the next plenary -- you know, those of us working on this don't have three weeks to set aside just to do this. We have other responsibilities. So, I think we are going to have to have a number of technical discussions. We have to figure out how to schedule that and how to organize that.

Question: About six party (inaudible)

A/S Hill: Again we don't have a specific idea about that but certainly as we were daunted by the amount of detail that has to go on we probably have to do more than just have these bilateral discussions.

Question: Could these meetings be interpreted as a working group?

A/S Hill: As a what?

Question: As a working group?

A/S Hill: We are interested in making progress. We are interested in meeting in whatever fora necessary to make progress. I hate to call it a working group yet but it will be a group that's working.

Question: On what issues do you think technical discussions will be necessary?

A/S Hill: I think we all have to have clarity on what precisely is involved in the declaration of nuclear activity, how this is going to be monitored, how this is going to be verified. If we had had more time we would have done that in this particular session. If there is one area which I wish we had more time to discuss in fact going through the various steps in how they would abandon these weapons. We did not have enough time to do that. So, I suspect we'll have more technical people in the room and we can come up with a plan.

I was encouraged to hear the DPRK acknowledge that these elements -- and, of course, in nuclear weapons as in many things in life -- the devil is in the details. I was pleased to see their acknowledging the overall elements that need to be worked into a plan.

Question: How are you going to make a decision on the framework of those difficult sessions?

A/S Hill: I think we need to see the results. The U.S. has worked out some proposals or approaches and we have had some discussions bilaterally with our other partners. Maybe what we need to do is to sit down and have multilateral discussions based on some of these ideas. Again, it's complex stuff and people really need time to do it.

Question: Mr. Secretary, you said that a freeze is unacceptable to the U.S. Did the North Koreans explicitly make an offer to freeze their weapons systems?

A/S Hill: I did not say that a freeze was unacceptable I said that to get into a negotiation for the purpose only of freezing was not something that we are interested in doing. We have been there. We have done that. What we need to have is dismantlement or abandonment of these programs -- not to substitute a freeze. At various times, the DPRK has suggested that they are prepared to stop their programs depending on the level on compensation, essentially inviting us into a negotiation to freeze the programs. The existence of these programs is the problem, not whether they are working or not. It is their mere existence that is the problem and therefore we don't want to be pushed on to the sidetrack of dealing with a freeze. I would prefer that they stop this stuff, stop these programs immediately, no question. But, I am not going to allow us to lose our focus and let us get involved with some sidetrack issue which will solve absolutely nothing for the long run because anything frozen can become unfrozen. So, we're just not interested in that type of reversible step. We are looking for irreversible steps.

Question: And did North Korea's uranium enrichment sector come up in this session? Did North Korea have anything to say?

A/S Hill: Well, the HEU kind of lingers over the talks and I think everyone understands that we are not going to get out of this process without going through the HEU issue. No one is forgetting about that. We certainly remind our interlocutors that this is an important issue to get through. We are just not going to pretend the issue doesn't exist. It does exist. We just need a full accounting of what this activity has been. We need to be assured that it is no longer there. We all know that that's another issue that probably is going to take more than 72 hours to get through.

Question: Do we know if they are producing plutonium anywhere else beside Yongbyon?

A/S Hill: No, right now the plutonium comes from this working reactor, the five megawatt reactor in Yongbyon. They have indicated on several occasions that they have a fifty-megawatt reactor that will come on line in a few years absent an agreement. Obviously, a fifty-megawatt reactor coming on line in a few years would be capable of producing even more plutonium and this too would be an extremely unwelcome development but that's a few years away.

Question: What do you expect out of this APEC meeting? Will you talk about North Korean issues?

A/S Hill: Well, the APEC meeting is a meeting of economies. There are people doing far more extensive briefings than I can give you on this. There will be discussions about a lot of different issues. There will be discussion of the next WTO round. There will be discussions of avian influenza. There will be discussions on a lot of things. I'm sure there will be some discussions of the Six Party Talks but the Six Party Talks has its own mechanism and I think we will probably keep it in the six parties rather than take it to APEC.

Question: What is your assessment that the light water reactor issue will continue to be a problem?

A/S Hill: Well, interestingly, the light water reactor didn't seem to play that major a role. I can tell you all five countries have a very clear view that there's not going to be any discussion of a light water reactor until an appropriate time and that appropriate time is not now. That appropriate time is when the DPRK has given up its nuclear weapons, has abandoned all its nuclear programs, has returned to the NPT, has returned to IAEA safeguards. After all that, there will be a decision about having the discussion about the subject of the provision of the light water reactor. All five countries were pretty clear about that. No one is jumping the gun on that. I would say that's another value in having this meeting because that was one issue we were able to make clear in less than 72 hours.

Question: What about the DPRK? Did they say anything?

A/S Hill: Well, it didn't really figure prominently in the discussions. It was mentioned a couple of times but it was not an issue that we had to devote much time to. So, maybe that's encouraging. But, if I tell you that, then tomorrow they'll have a big light water reactor announcement from Pyongyong so I would rather not chalk that up.

Question: Regarding the HEU, did you find the slightest indication that they are backing down or showing more flexibility on this issue during the three-day talks?

A/S Hill: I can't say they did. I think they know our position. They know our position and they know that we are not going to have a nuclear deal without a resolution of that question. I have talked to my DPRK counterpart about that and he acknowledges that that issue needs to be satisfied. Everybody needs to be satisfied on that point. They fully understand that and I'm expecting that to be a major issue when we really get to the question of the DPRK declaration of what their programs are because we know what they have imported from other countries. We know what their intentions were. We know that they made purchase entirely consistent with an HEU program. This is one issue that we just can't back away from. They know that.

Question: Also, the fifty-megawatt reactor, is this a statement that the construction would be done in the near future?

A/S Hill: We did not discuss the fifty-megawatt reactor. I have heard in various other discussions that they are trying to get it completed but it is a matter of a few years away. It's also based on this graphite technology that, in our agreement, would be abandoned by the DPRK. So, I hope they are not working too hard on it because it is something they are going to have to give up.

Question: Mr. Secretary, am I right in saying that they get reactors instead of the whole programs?

A/S Hill: They have to give us a declaration and let us know what the programs are. We have a lot of technical people who have a pretty good idea of what they have so there has to be some reconciliation of what we know and what they say they have. We have to go through all of that. Then they have to start dismantling these things. I think it's easier to dismantle a reactor when it's not working than one that's operating so they do have to shut it off first. I think they ought to shut it off now and save themselves some aggravation for the future. But, we are not going to have a separate agreement on something that is an entirely logical step, that is, shutting it off before they start taking it apart.

Question: Do you plan to conduct the next session with your own proposal the de-nuclearization plan?

A/S Hill: Yes. I did a lot of listening. I know most of you think Americans don't listen but this one does. I did a lot listening and based on some of this listening and based on some of the work we are doing, yes, we will be coming back with some collaborative ideas on this. It was 72 hours. It wasn't enough time to do everything but we really do have a sense of urgency about this. We really do want to see progress made on this. So, we will come back with some very specific ideas.

Question: Mr. Secretary, when do you think you will be coming back for the second phase of this?

A/S Hill: You're trying to book a hotel and get a good rate at the hotel, aren't you? We ran into that problem ourselves.

Question: Would it be January or February? Do you think you might go to Pyongyang before then?

A/S Hill: As I have said before, I don't have travel plans right now except to get myself to APEC next week. I'd rather not say. I'd sort of like it to be earlier but I need to get consensus from the other five on that. I really think we need to make more progress than we did in this time. In order to do that we need to clear our calendars and really find some more days that are available. I don't have to be at the East Asia Summit but a lot of the others do so that kind of wiped out the second week in December which would have been a good week for me. Then there was some talk about the third week and Sunday or Saturday is Christmas and that's sort of problematic for a number of us. We'll work this out and we will let you know so you can book a hotel.

Question: So, unlikely to be in February?

A/S Hill: I don't know. I would hope the sooner the better. I don't want to say January because you will say "you men it's not going to be in December?" I can't say it's not going to be in December. You mention February. That strikes me as a long way away, February. I would like definitely to see it before that.

Question: When do you leave for Pusan and are you going straight to Pusan?

A/S Hill: Actually, I'm going to do some traveling around China. This is a great country, big country, a lot of things going on outside of these hotels here in Beijing so I'm going to spend the next couple of days seeing a little of China. Then, I am going to get to Pusan in the beginning of the week. Thank you very much. Good to see you all and see you next time.

'North Korea Should Stop Operations at Yongbyon Reactor, Hill Says', Washington File, November 10, 2005.

Following are transcripts of four press briefings by Hill November 9 and November 10:

Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill
Six Party Talks
Morning Transit - Trader's Hotel
Beijing, China
November 9, 2005

A/S Hill: I'll see you all later to tell you how we weathered the first day. We'll be meeting with the Chinese delegation this morning, and the talks begin at ten o'clock. We anticipate this going a few days, and we'll see how we do. We want to make sure that we can move from where we were in September and begin to discuss how we might implement the statement of principles.

Question: Do you feel that President Hu's recent trip Pyongyang has brought progress to the sequencing of events that you desire?

A/S Hill: I look forward to hearing directly from the Chinese delegation on how they assess the visit to Pyongyang. We've had some read outs on it, and I'll look forward to hearing how they assess it in terms of the Six Party Talks.

Question: Do you plan to meet with North Korea in bilateral meeting this morning?

A/S Hill: Yes, I think we'll meet with everybody bilaterally today.

Question: Including North Koreans?

A/S Hill: Including North Koreans, yes.

Question: What if the North Koreans demand the light water reactor...?

A/S Hill: Well, I don't have a lot new to tell them on the light water reactor, I mean, it is what it is. Its very clear in the agreement what they need to do, our delegation made it very clear that first they've got to disarm, create a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and once they are back in the NPT with IAEA safeguards at an appropriate time we will have a discussion about the subject of the provision of a light water reactor.

Question: HEU is on your agenda?

A/S Hill: HEU is one of the nuclear programs that does have to be addressed, and it needs to be addressed to everyone's satisfaction.

Thank you very much.

(end transcript)

(begin transcript)

Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill
Six Party Talks
Evening Transit - Traders Hotel
Beijing, China
November 9, 2005

A/S Hill: Hi. How are you? We had a long day. So did you probably. This is the first day of the first session of the fifth round and so we reviewed sort of where we were after September 19. We exchanged some ideas on the way forward. We did this in the plenary session, so all six parties met together. Then, speaking for the U.S. side, we had five bilateral meetings, and I've just come from dinner with the DPRK counterpart, Mr. Kim Gye Gwan. We're going to see how this goes in the next couple of days. We anticipate this winding up on Friday. The purpose is to try to figure out a way forward, figure out how we're going to take principles and turn them into actual implementation. To be sure, we do have some disagreements, but I think it's important to note that everyone understands what they signed up for. Everyone understands what the principles were, and, to be sure, we'll have disagreements about who goes first, et cetera, but it was frankly a very good and substantive day. So unless you have any questions, I'm going to go to bed.

Question: Today, the Japanese side, they proposed two working groups and three tracks. They made that proposal, right, today?

A/S Hill: Did they tell you they were going to do that? The Japanese had a very good proposal.

Question: Can you agree on it?

A/S Hill: They had a very good, very interesting proposal. I don't want to say what I agree with and what I don't agree with, but the point being that they had three tracks and they tried to lay out how they would make progress in these three tracks. The first track of course being denuclearization, and then the second track being bilateral, and the third track being a sort of economic track. I think it was a very useful proposal to how we can look at this issue. What we don't want to do is to get into a protracted discussion of who takes what step first and how do we calibrate each step, but rather to sort of think boldly about how we can really make some important steps forward.

Question: We heard that the DPRK delegation showed their own idea of step-by-step denuclearization. What did they explain and what do you think about it?

A/S Hill: The DPRK also had some ideas on how to go forward. Frankly, they introduced some elements that are not in the agreed principles. And they introduced some elements that, really, we are not able to work with. But on the other hand, they showed a willingness to move forward and to figure out how to implement the principles. Now remember, what we're looking for is ideas on how to take a document that is essentially two and a half pages of principles and to see if we can take those two and a half pages of principles and move them forward into an agreement. We're going to have a lot more bilateral discussions tomorrow. I think we'll have a meeting of heads of delegation early tomorrow morning. I had today two meetings with the Chinese, who are most interested in seeing how we can move this process forward. I think it was a very useful day today.

Question: Could you elaborate on the part that you cannot agree in the North Korean proposal?

A/S Hill: You want me to talk about what I cannot agree with. We agree with a lot. I think the DPRK needs to understand that we need to move swiftly on denuclearization, and in fact that denuclearization is the first step in the agreement. I'm not saying it's the only step, but we need to move quickly on denuclearization, and I think the DPRK has a much more deliberate or slower process of how to handle denuclearization. We'd like to see denuclearization in the fastest track.

Question: Mr. Ambassador, did North Korean harden their position on their demand of the light water reactor.

A/S Hill: No, no, I would not say they hardened their position at all. I hate to say they softened their position because if I told you they softened their position, tomorrow they would then harden their position. Let me just say that there were no surprises there, and in fact I, frankly speaking, felt that we have the way forward on that issue.

Question: So they remain in the same position as one month ago?

A/S Hill: Yeah, I don't think there were any new problems encountered on that.

Question: What specific steps do you think North Korea should take in terms of trust building?

A/S Hill: It's my contention, and I like to think other people agree with me on this, that the DPRK is paying a very, very high price for maintaining what they call a nuclear deterrent. I think the DPRK really ought to look at whether the nuclear programs they have are worth keeping. I had some discussions with the DPRK on the so-called deterrent value of these programs, and I made very clear that the U.S. has no intention of attacking the DPRK either by conventional or nuclear means, and therefore, one has to ask the question, why are they maintaining this nuclear program and does the nuclear program in the DPRK make it more of a target or less of a target. We had a very good discussion about that.

Question: In terms of more specific terms, do you mean the declaration of all the existing nuclear programs or turning off the reactors?

A/S Hill: We had a discussion about that. They have to, when the time comes and the time will come soon, they have to really declare what they've got. What we don't want is a situation where they declare something and we know that there's something else. And then we open up a credibility problem on what they've declared. So we want them to really look at the declaration as something that is as close to the truth as they can make it. That's very important and we had a discussion, a good discussion on that.

Question: According to the Interfax agency, the North Koreans had some proposal about the steps. The first step [inaudible] for the nuclear arms and the second step [inaudible].

A/S Hill: They did and they laid out some of the fundamental steps, but there are steps within steps and we have to see how those steps really would operate. But clearly, laying out what their programs are, laying out the fact that they're going to halt their programs. One of the points we made to them is we were at a certain situation on September 19 where they agreed to certain measures. And the problem is that since September 19, the Yongbyon reactor has continued to operate. In a sense, the problem has actually gotten worse since September 19. So, I rather diplomatically pointed that out to them. By diplomatically, I mean clearly I pointed that out to them. We have to work through that, and we've got some time to do that.

Question: How about a light water reactor?

A/S Hill: You know, it was an issue that came up in the plenary session and the DPRK has also raised it in bilateral terms, but we have made the same point that other parties in the Six Party Talks have made, which is that we will be prepared to have a discussion about the subject of the provision of a light water reactor, but only after the DPRK gets rid of its nuclear weapons, gets rid of its nuclear programs, gets back into the NPT and has IAEA safeguards. That is the appropriate time at which to have a discussion on the light water reactor. Some other countries, and I'll have them speak for themselves, also made very clear to the DPRK that it was the DPRK who pulled themselves out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and really created a situation where it is very difficult for other countries to cooperate with the DPRK on nuclear energy. Now, the DPRK has mentioned that there's the example of India, but it does not require too much explanation to explain that the DPRK and India are two rather different countries with rather different circumstances. So, there was some discussion on that.

Question: Mr. Hill, did the Chinese side put forth any specific proposals today? And a second question: what length of time did the North Koreans propose for their disarmament?

A/S Hill: We did not get into the length of time that they're proposing for a disarmament process. I certainly made the case that the sooner, the better. And with respect to the Chinese, they did not propose an actual length of time. Some of these issues will depend on the technical questions of how quickly it takes to deal with these issues.

Question: Did the Chinese side put any other proposals, issues on the table?

A/S Hill: The Chinese essentially proposed that by the end of three days -- and I don't want to be too specific whether it's Friday night or Saturday morning, or Sunday, depending on when your airplane reservations are -- the Chinese made very clear that at some point they will have to put together a chairman's statement, to summarize what we've done and also identify the way forward and when we are going to meet. Because we consider this only the first session of the fifth round of the Six Party Talks.

Question: And what happens tomorrow?

A/S Hill: I think we're going to start with a meeting of the heads of delegation and then move to bilateral sessions, and begin to sort of identify how we might go forward. There are some delegations who would like to see the way forward charted by some kind of roadmap. I'm not sure we're ready really to talk roadmap, but certainly we're prepared to look at how we might go forward from here. Even though this is only three days and we all have to break in order to get to APEC, there is a strong sense among all six delegations that we really want to make progress in these three days, so that when we come back for the second session of the fifth round of the Six Party Talks, we'll be able to make further progress.

Question: Did the North Koreans mention Bush's comment about tyrants at all? Either formally or informally?

A/S Hill: You'll have to ask them. Is that the comment that the Japanese press reported about speaking to Brazilian youth in where was it? Rio or Brasilia or something? I don't know. I'm sorry, you'll have to ask them.

Question: Who bought dinner tonight?

A/S Hill: Who bought dinner? [Laughter] I don't know. You bought dinner, I don't know!

Question: What I am saying is who proposed to have dinner, I mean with the North Koreans. You had dinner with the North Koreans?

A/S Hill: I had dinner with the head of the North Korean delegation. Just myself and an interpreter. We sat down, I'm trying to think who actually picked up the check. I'm not sure. Is that important to you? I could get back to you. [Laughter]

Question: So Mr. Ambassador, you're not going to propose any complete action plans or roadmap tomorrow?

A/S Hill: No, I think we're going to talk about concepts of how to go forward. We want to make progress, but we also want to be realistic about a three day session. There's a lot going on right now in terms of APEC. We want the three day session to be an important three day session because we want to go onto still another session. But it's a little difficult right now to talk about specific roadmap issues. We're in very close contact with all the parties. I know you're a Japanese journalist and you can be assured that the Japanese delegation is working very hard on figuring out the way forward.

Question: Are you confident that in the next two days you can identify the framework of negotiations and set up working groups?

A/S Hill: I don't know if we'll be able to actually set up the working groups. Probably we will be able to identify the framework of the negotiations and to go forward. How we do it, whether it's working groups, whether it's agenda items or separate sessions, I'm not really, at this point, prepared to say that. If you talk about working groups, what you talk about is dividing delegations, and the delegations are not that big, so should I attend one group and not the other? I'm not really prepared to say that at this point. But what I am prepared to say is that we really want to move forward and we want to make demonstrable progress in the next few weeks.

Question: Have there been any discussions about North Korea's uranium program?

A/S Hill: Not really, except to say that we have reiterated to all parties the need to seek clarity on this issue. That is, the uranium enrichment program has to be part of the solution to this. And we rely on the DPRK view that in fact the uranium enrichment program... there are questions that need to be answered to the satisfaction of all concerned. So I can assure you it's an issue that we continue to be very interested in. I'm going to encourage you all to get some sleep. Thank you very much and maybe I'll see you tomorrow.

(end transcript)

(begin transcript)

Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill
Six Party Talks
Morning Transit - Traders Hotel
Beijing, China
November 10, 2005

A/S Hill: Good morning. You know I don't have anything for you in the morning. I can tell you what I had for breakfast. [Laughter] We've got a delegation meeting in about thirty minutes, and I think we are just going to continue to try and identify a work plan for the rest of this round. This is just the first session. I think the session is devoted to organizing our way ahead. We have to see what the other parties want to do. I think the Japanese have some good ideas. ROK has some good ideas. I hope we'll have some good ideas. We'll see if we can come up with a good way forward and try to meet in the next few weeks. So, thank you very much.

Question: Your dinner with the North Koreans last evening? Did you...

A/S Hill: I thought I reported on that last night. But go ahead.

Question: Was there progress that you can...?

A/S Hill: I think it was a very useful opportunity to exchange views on where we are. I think everyone knows what they signed up for in September. I don't think there's any confusion on that point. I think the issue is how to come up with an implementation plan and get moving.

Question: The South Korean head of delegation was saying yesterday that he was going to meet you before the plenary session this morning.

A/S Hill: Was he? Then I've got to hurry. [Laughter]

Question: Well, wasn't there a meeting scheduled?

A/S Hill: No, I had a dinner with the DPRK representative. I got back here, and I was not able to see Mr. Song last night. I'll try to see him for a few minutes before the plenary, but thanks for passing on the message.

Question: Mr. Ambassador, your ambassador to South Korea is saying that the United States is ready to open their office in Pyongyang. Is that ...?

A/S Hill: I think what he's talking about is the way forward and the fact that when we get through this nuclear issue, a lot of things are possible. I think that he was also making the point that the DPRK has to try to establish a level of trust. They are often fond of talking about our level of trust, but they have some responsibilities themselves. I think that was the point he was making. It's quite a good point.

Question: Did you have any discussion with Mr. Kim yesterday about the future prospects of opening an office?

A/S Hill: No, we didn't get into that kind of detail. I'm kind of focused on taking care of the nuclear weapons issue.

Question: You mentioned last night that the situation was [inaudible]. Did you mean you are coordinating with [inaudible]?

A/S Hill: No, I was simply pointing out that since September 19, which is when we completed the agreed principles, Yongbyon has continued to operate. In operating, it's continuing to produce material that through reprocessing can be turned into weapons grade plutonium. Every day that goes on, the amount of this plutonium theoretically can increase. That is our concern and that means that we have bigger a problem than when we ended on September 19. I think the time to stop reprocessing - the time to stop that reactor - is now. Once that is stopped, we would look forward to DPRK's making a declaration of what it has in the way of nuclear programs. We can then get on with the task of ridding the Korean peninsula of this very dangerous material.

Question: When you made that proposal at the dinner last night, what was his reaction? What specific steps do you think North Korea should take in terms of trust building?

A/S Hill: I had a dinner conversation. I'm not going to give you his reaction and my reaction to his reaction and so on. This is why we didn't do the conversation here in front of you. [Laughter]

Question: You said that Japan has good ideas and ROK has good ideas, but what about yours? Any mention of building of trust?

A/S Hill: The issue is not so much building of trust. I understand that point about trust, but do you know how you build up trust? You live up to the agreement. You come up with solid implementing schemes that enable you to move forward and show that what you've agreed to do is the agreement you are actually doing. That's the best way to build up trust. So you can build up trust through actions. We're prepared to fulfill all of our undertakings, but frankly we've got to get going on this problem with plutonium. We think that the time to stop this production is now, and DPRK already knows that.

Thank you very much. Maybe I'll have more for you later on.

(end transcript)

(begin transcript)

Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill
Six Party Talks
Evening Transit - Traders Hotel
Beijing, China
November 10, 2005

A/S Hill: Good evening. Well, we just completed day two of what is expected to be a three day first session of the fifth round. We just had dinner hosted by the Chinese delegation. It was a good occasion to summarize the day and talk a little about what lies ahead. I sat at a table with the heads of delegation. I think to my left was the DPRK representative and to my right was the Japanese representative. We had a good discussion about how we might go from here. There were a lot of ideas proposed today. The South Koreans had some suggestions about how we should take some of the statements and the principles and move them into actual implementation measures. The Japanese had a very good proposal to try to lay out several tracks on how we might move forward. We felt both of these were very good ideas for going forward. I think tomorrow we will meet again at 9:30. The Chinese hosts will convene a meeting of the six delegations. We'll probably have some additional bilateral discussions, and then I expect the Chinese delegation to issue a chairman's statement which will reflect the discussions that we've had and propose where we might go from here and suggest that we should reconvene at an early date. Again, no big surprises today. It was really an opportunity to discuss ideas for proceeding.

Question: Did you talk anything with the North Koreans during dinner?

A/S Hill: Well, I sat right next to my DPRK counterpart and, of course, we had some discussions about the way forward.

Question: Mr. Secretary, what did you think about North Korea's first step, their proposal, their roadmap? Do you think that's a viable option?

A/S Hill: I think the DPRK needs to focus itself very much on how it's going to first of all stop its programs. As you know, today they are continuing to operate the five megawatt reactor in Yongbyon. So I think they need to focus pretty heavily on that, and I think they need to focus on how their declaration is going to look, and then begin the process of abandoning these weapons. And I hope that in the coming weeks they can really address this with the precision that it deserves, because the fact of the matter is we're here to try to ensure the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and that's going to have to start with the DPRK fulfilling its undertakings.

Question: Today Japan criticized the DPRK for they didn't play a constructive role to the Six Party Talks?

A/S Hill: I don't recall it being quite that harsh. I think the Japanese were pointing out where they felt the DPRK should perhaps be more specific, but I think there was also some praise for the fact that the DPRK had suggested some ways to move forward on this. I don't know what information you're going on, but this was a fairly businesslike meeting today. It was not the sort of criticism of the kind you suggest.

Question: Do you get the feeling that the North Korean side is more willing to implement this agreement, or...?

A/S Hill: Once they implement all this, then we can start looking back and see what their feelings were, but what I know today is we don't have implementation yet. We have an agreement on principles. We have a discussion about implementation, but we don't have an implementation plan yet. I think I told you all a couple of nights ago that the three day session was really too soon and too short a time to be working out a complete implementation plan. But I hope that at our next session -- that is, the second session of this fifth round -- we will be able to make some progress on that, and then I can assess how ready the DPRK was to do this.

Question: Right, but I mean, seemingly, the North Korean side has proposed what we call a step-by-step...for step...do you think this is... Do you think the North Korean side is bargaining, or...?

A/S Hill: You'll have to ask them. It is obvious to me, I think obvious to most people, that the nuclear weapons programs in the DPRK have been a very costly endeavor for the DPRK. It has really left them out of the international financial system. It has left them out of the whole international milieu that they have to be a part of. I think these have been very costly programs and moreover, I would argue that they have not contributed at all to North Korean security. On the contrary, they have made DPRK a country that many countries, including my own, are very concerned about. So I think the time for them to stop producing nuclear material is now. I mean, I would argue they should have done this some time ago. And then they need to get out of this business as soon as possible. Again, I don't have anything new to say on that. I just would like to see them move as quickly as possible. Because the faster they move, the faster we move, the faster everybody moves, and the faster the DPRK can be reintegrated back into the world.

Question: Mr. Ambassador, regarding the setting of the working groups, is there the convergence or the congruence among the parties?

A/S Hill: We had some convergence and congruence on what sorts of issues we need to look at. We are not prepared at this point to say with precision how we might organize working groups. What I suspect will happen is after this round, we will be in touch with each other and when we come ready for the next session of this round, we will be ready to move very quickly. I think the good news is that everyone is committed to this process. I must tell you the light water reactor was not a big factor; it was not something that everyone was talking about. I'm hopeful that we can move ahead.

Question: Will the chairman's statement touch on this issue? I mean [inaudible].

A/S Hill: You'll have to ask the Chinese. I think they're going to be up very late tonight working on the chairman's statement. What I suspect they'll do is try to summarize some of the ideas for moving ahead and identify ideas that they felt enjoyed broad support within the process. The United States delegation... we had some ideas, but the more comprehensive ideas were provided by the ROK and the Japanese delegations. The Russians also had some positive things to say and a positive approach to it.

Question: Mr. Secretary, what might the chairman's statement look like? Can you give us a glimpse?

A/S Hill: You'll have to talk to the Chinese. They are working on that. You can bother them anytime tonight because I think they'll be up very, very late. I think what they will do is try to summarize the ideas that were produced in the last 48 hours. Again, I cannot emphasize to you enough the fact that this is a very short session, kind of squeezed in before the APEC. We wanted to have this session now because I know there had been discussion since September 19 on where we really stand, and so we wanted to show that before APEC, that in fact we are on track, and I think definitely the issues are on track. But we are not yet at a point where we can talk about actual implementation.

Question: Mr. Hill, how much longer can the six party process continue forward if North Korea continues its Yongbyon plant, and continues [inaudible]?

A/S Hill: The problem with the Yongbyon plant, and I've tried to make this clear to the North Koreans, is we had a certain situation as of September 19 where it was agreed that the DPRK would abandon its weapons, abandon its programs. And in fact, since September 19, the Yongbyon plant has continued. So this means that there is the potential for additional plutonium, which also needs to be accounted for and needs to be abandoned. So you have to ask yourself the question why are they bothering to produce this because they're essentially producing a product that they're going to have to give up. I don't know how long this can go on, except to say that the sooner they stop that program, the better.

Question: Did the North Koreans put forward any conditions about stopping?

A/S Hill: They did not put down conditions. They are, like all of us, waiting for a full implementation plan and, as I said, this is a first opportunity, really, to discuss implementation. So we have to see what this looks like when we reconvene. But the next time we reconvene, we won't be doing it on a 72-hour deadline, and we will expect to reconvene in a way where we can really make some clear progress toward the implementation. I think I told you all before that the United States is very interested in this process. We believe this is the best way forward. But our interest in this process depends on our ability to make progress. I think the next session will be a very key session in terms of whether we can make progress.

Question: I think yesterday you said that you could see a way forward on the light water reactor issue. Precisely what way?

A/S Hill: I think we have made clear and all of the delegations have made abundantly clear to the DPRK that nobody is prepared to have nuclear cooperation with a country that is out of the NPT, out of IAEA safeguards, and in the business of producing weapons of mass destruction. There is simply no country that's willing to work with them on this. So I think the message has gotten through. Sometimes, like a lot of things in life, it takes time to sink in and I think the message is sinking in.

Question: Can you reconvene the next session by the end of this year?

A/S Hill: I think we have to look at our calendars. The next couple of weeks are pretty busy calendars with APEC and I know a number of countries are involved in the East Asia Summit down in Kuala Lumpur. I think the concept is to do this before the end of the year, but we all have to consult our calendars. But believe me, we are quite aware of the fact that we need to make some rapid progress. It was difficult to get together during these few days before APEC, but we felt it was necessary to do that because in September, you recall, we said we would get together in early November. And so if we didn't do that in this three day period, we would have missed that window, and a lot of you would have been saying that the Six Party Talks were being delayed, and we did not want to give you the pleasure of writing that story. [Laughter]

Question: So Mr. Secretary, is there a chance that that you may be coming early next year and still think this is not the end of the process?

A/S Hill: Look, I want to emphasize that we are not interested in just reconvening and reconvening and reconvening. We need to convene at a time when we are prepared to really move ahead, and the next step is to have very concrete plans for implementation.

Question: It doesn't matter if it's end of this year or early next year?

A/S Hill: It doesn't matter so much to me whether it's the end of December or early January. It may matter to you, but I think what matters most of all is to really have progress in this because, again, this can't go on and on. We admire the work and efforts of our Chinese hosts, but we don't want to abuse our status as guests.

Question: [Inaudible]

A/S Hill: They are not prepared at this point to tell us when they will shut off the reactor. We think the time to shut it off is now. I mean, frankly speaking, the time to shut it off was a long time ago because there is no purpose for that reactor. It is not producing electricity. North Korea is a country having severe electricity problems and that five megawatt reactor is not doing anything to solve that. So the time to do it is now. The DPRK has taken the position that they will not shut it down until there's an implementation plan -- that is, a fully elaborated plan on when they will actually abandon their nuclear programs. We've told them that they are, I think, wasting a lot of time and energy keeping that thing operating because whatever it produces is going to have to be returned and we will be absolutely careful to make sure that we have collected every bit of fissionable material.

Question: Can you clarify what was the U.S. proposal apart from [inaudible]?

A/S Hill: We've made very clear that we're prepared to live by all of terms of the joint statement, and there are a number of issues that we need to get going on in the joint statement. There are, of course, the denuclearization issues and that is where we need to look very precisely about how the DPRK will stop what they're doing, make a declaration as to what they're doing, begin dismantling and abandoning what they're doing, and then have it properly verified, so that's probably the most complicated, complex piece, but there are other elements of this. For example, there are the economic and energy elements. There we have to see how we can help the DPRK with what are profound economic problems that they need to deal with. We're prepared to do that. We really want to see the DPRK come out of its isolation and join the world.

Question: Mr. Hill, did you mention the possibility of opening a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang?

A/S Hill: We did not get into that level of specificity today. As you recall from the joint statement, we do envision a normalization process that would, at a certain stage, involve precisely that. That is, opening up a liaison office. But we did not get into that level of specificity. Again, I hate to keep repeating myself, but we only had 72 hours and that's not a lot of time to discuss what is really a pretty complex agreement.

Question: Were counterfeit money and freezing of financial assets raised at all today?

A/S Hill: Yes, it was. It was raised by the DPRK and they expressed concern about this and I had to make clear to them that these are law enforcement issues and not six party issues. We endeavored to give them some information that is available on the web as to what the U.S. Treasury Department has done, but I want to emphasize I'm not involved in law enforcement. They were interested in the subject and we gave them some information on it.

Question: But it didn't sour things or...?

A/S Hill: They're not happy with the fact that a bank in Macau, which our investigators have determined to be involved in money laundering, has been put off bounds to U.S. banks, and they're not happy about that because that bank does business with the DPRK. They made clear that they are not happy about that, but I made it clear that I don't do financial sector regulation, and in fact that bank's operations were frozen by the Macau authorities -- that is, the Chinese authorities, as the Chinese authorities are investigating. From the point of view of the U.S., we did not take action against that bank. We took action to tell U.S. financial institutions not to do business with that bank. I might add that these are so-called Section 311 authorities that have been done not just with respect to a bank in Macau, but also I think there were a couple of banks in Europe, a couple of banks in the Middle East, having nothing to do with DPRK, but rather issues of money laundering, which is an international problem. It's part of a bigger picture that goes beyond the question of North Korea, the DPRK.

Question: Mr. Hill, has the South Korean energy proposal been discussed in the past few days?

A/S Hill: We didn't have much of a discussion on the South Korean energy proposal. I think the South Koreans reiterated that, per the joint statement, they're certainly prepared to fulfill this plan, but we did not have much of a discussion on this.

Question: Up until now did you have the impression that... during your exchanges with the Chinese delegation, did you have the impression that there is a different attitude or there is any change that you can link directly to the visit of Hu Jintao to Pyongyang recently?

A/S Hill: I cannot say there is any relationship to the visit of Hu Jintao to DPRK. I must say, the Chinese authorities...my Chinese counterparts, in talking about this overall issue, they kind of agree with me and agree with everyone else -- they'd like to move on, get this thing done, get this tied down, get this thing over with and we'll move on to the next problem. Like I've said before, we have really good cooperation with the Chinese. The Chinese are working very hard, both as a host and also as a member of this process, to try to get this thing done. China has no interest in seeing the DPRK producing nuclear materials.

Question: You don't see direct influence on these talks now? In comparison with the last ones?

A/S Hill: No, I do not see any change in the Chinese positive position toward solving this matter. We're in close touch with them, we're in close touch with all the parties, and I think everyone agrees that everybody's trying to get this thing done.

Question: Not even the North Korean delegation? As a result of this visit? Not even in the North Korean delegation?

A/S Hill: I think the North Korean delegation continues to operate on its own time schedule, and I don't see any sign that President Hu Jintao was part of that.

Question: Are you still considering visiting Pyongyang?

A/S Hill: I know there's been an idea about that. I know the South Korean press especially was interested in my going to Pyongyang, and what I've said is I'm quite willing to do that in the context of furthering the Six Party Talks. So if there's an opportunity, and if it makes sense, and if it helps the process and brings an end to this terrible problem, then I'm sure we'll look favorably on that idea.

Question: Mr. Ambassador, can you tell us the reason why the United States is [inaudible] from proposing a comprehensive idea for [inaudible] ...is the reason why 72 hours, a short time?

A/S Hill: Comprehensive is a big word. I think what we're very focused on is implementation rather than comprehensive. We're really focused on the need to implement the joint statement. It's a complex document. We're talking about economic issues, we're talking about normalization issues. We're working on all these issues right now, so I don't think the problem is a lack of ideas. I think the problem is we need to have more time to figure out an actual plan to roll out what needs to be done. Thank you very much.

Tomorrow I can truly, truthfully, honestly predict is the last day. Then you can all go to Pusan or wherever you're going and ask a lot of questions over there.

Question: When are you going to leave here? Tomorrow afternoon?

A/S Hill: I don't know. I have some plans. I want to see a little of China. This is great country, really an extremely important partner to the U.S., and I just confess, seeing the inside of these hotels and seeing you all is...[Laughter]. I think there's more to China than seeing all of you. So I'd like to get out and see a little of China. So I'm going do that this weekend. Thank you very much.

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

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