US Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill on North Korea, April 15, 2007
Departure Walkthrough With Reporters at Six-Party Talks, Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, St. Regis Hotel, Beijing, China, April 15, 2007.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Hi. Anyway, I am going to go back to Washington. We obviously will be in close contact with our other partners. Needless to say, we were not happy that the DPRK essentially has missed this very important deadline. We are obviously going to be watching the situation very closely in the coming days. The Chinese hosts asked us to be patient and hold on a few days, so we are quite prepared to do that. But clearly we have to be close in contact and see what our next steps are.
QUESTION: Have you spoken to anybody this morning (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No. We had, over the weekend, sent a message to the DPRK to confirm that, in our view -- and, frankly speaking, in everybody else's view -- the accounts are open and, therefore, there is really nothing more we can be doing and it's their turn now. The ball is in their court.
I think they are celebrating the birthday there today. So I suppose it's a busy day in Pyongyang, and they are not able to get back to us.
QUESTION: When you say "we," you mean -
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The U.S.
QUESTION: And what did you say exactly in that note?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I am not going to tell you what I said exactly in that note, except to say that we made very clear that we think it's time for them to get on with the task of inviting the IAEA back in. But we can't see any more that we can do.
QUESTION: If the accounts are open, then why is there no transfer of money?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You have to ask the North Koreans. But, in fact, we understand that they've been informed that the accounts are open and available for withdrawal or for transfer. It's entirely between them and their banker. So why they haven't done that, I just don't know.
QUESTION: Did you send a message through the New York channel?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Actually we sent it directly here, through their embassy here.
QUESTION: Did you go to the North Korean Embassy or somebody from the U.S. Embassy went there?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We delivered a message to the North Korean Embassy here.
QUESTION: You yourself?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Not me myself, no.
QUESTION: Why don't you set up a new deadline? How much are you --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We've already had a deadline, and I don't think we need to set up another deadline. What we need to do is have the North Koreans comply with this, and they've obviously missed this weekend deadline. Obviously, it's a problem when a deadline of this kind is missed. We have talked to the Chinese about this. We think the Chinese share our concern about this. They asked us to be patient for few more days. That seems like the wise thing to do. So we are prepared to do that. But, clearly, we have to be working very closely with our partners. It's not for the U.S. to take some unilateral actions; we need to be working closely multilaterally with our partners.
I want to be very clear that we worked hard to support the Macau decision to unblock the accounts, accounts that had been administratively blocked for some months. We worked hard to ensure that that's happened. We confirmed with the Macau authorities that that was the case. We confirmed that the Macau authorities had confirmed to the DPRK officials that they had taken this step. I'm not sure that there's much more that could be done in that regard.
I think it's time for the North Koreans to take some measures on their own. Clearly, if we're going to get through this denuclearization process, there are many steps. And deadlines are important to achieving our goals and to do it in a timely way.
QUESTION: Apart from urging the North Koreans to comply and so to speed up their actions, what other pressure can you apply on them?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Obviously we have to work closely with our partners on that. We're not going to take unilateral actions; we're going to work with the other partners. This is a multilateral process, has been for some time. Any pressures, any approach, would have to be developed together with others. The chair of this process are the Chinese. And the Chinese have supported what took place in Macau, and they've asked us to be patient for a few days. And that seems like the prudent thing to do. We're following their lead on that.
QUESTION: China told you to hold out a few more days, but did they say what they what they are going to do in the next days?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: They have been in touch with the DPRK. And as chair of the process, they obviously have a special responsibility to ensure that the obligations that countries have undertaken are fulfilled. As of now, for example, one of the key issues has been providing fuel oil to the DPRK. They have received no fuel oil at all, and they won't until they show that they are prepared to move ahead. We all have to examine our own policies, but it's especially important that we work together in the partnership we've really forged through this.
QUESTION: Can I ask when you sent the message? Yesterday or today?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We've sent several, but most recently yesterday.
QUESTION: In the message you sent the North Koreans -
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don't want to get into further discussion of it. I've told you what I know about it. OK?
QUESTION: Did you ask North Korea to have Six Party Talks?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No. We told them it was time for them to comply with their obligations. We've complied with ours. They should comply with theirs.
QUESTION: In the comment you just gave, you seemed to suggest that the Chinese are the party with the most leverage, in order to put pressure on the North Koreans.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: There's no question they have leverage. I think a number of the parties have leverage. The Chinese certainly have leverage, but they also have responsibilities as the chair of the process to try to make sure the process is moving forward. When we have a problem with the process, we go to the Chinese. That's what I've been doing this weekend. We've had some good discussions with the Chinese, and the Chinese have asked us to be patient. In respect of the Chinese, in respect of their role as host, we are certainly obliging them in this regard. We have to monitor the situation very closely in the next few days and see where we are.
All right? See you later.
QUESTION: When will you come back to Beijing? Next week?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don't know. I don't know. You're wondering whether you should just stay here? It's a close call, isn't it? I don't know what to advise you on that. Anyway, good luck.
QUESTION: Safe flight back
Source: US Department of State, http://www.state.gov.
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