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U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

INDEX
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2000
Briefer: PHILIP REEKER

NORTH KOREA
12-14US-North Korea Bilateral Talks in Rome / Agenda
14Status of High Level Visit
14Visit to Kumchang-Ni


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB #49
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2000, 1:30 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

.........

QUESTION: On the North Korean talks are extremely empty, right? No agenda? They can't even say when an agenda is -- the poor folks trying to cover that event, believe it or not, are relying on what you didn't say yesterday as their information.

MR. REEKER: And I wouldn't want to add much to what I didn't say yesterday.

QUESTION: Well, you did a good job of not saying anything yesterday. But I would think, I wondered if it would, you know, rupture world stability if you would say what's on the agenda.

MR. REEKER: The agenda in Rome, you're talking about, Barry, not the visit to Kumchang-ni?

QUESTION: No, the agenda in Rome.

QUESTION: But can we get that, too?

MR. REEKER: I think those talks have begun, as they were expected to, yesterday. I did go through the delegations. I don't think anybody asked me about the agenda yesterday, Barry.

QUESTION: The talks began today?

MR. REEKER: Began today. The delegation for the DPRK is led by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan. The US delegation, as you know, is led by Ambassador Charles Kartman. This is a resumption of the talks that adjourned March 15th in New York.

We're using this meeting to begin talks on Agreed Framework implementation, and we're going to continue to discuss the full range of issues of common concern, including missiles, as we seek to improve relations with the DPRK.

The talks are taking place in Rome, as I mentioned, at a facility provided by the Italian Government. We wanted to thank the Italian Government for that. There is no fixed ending date for these talks and, as you know, the usual procedure is not to comment specifically on the talks while they're ongoing.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) a total briefing on everything that happened.

MR. REEKER: That's right. The purpose of the ongoing dialogue, if I can anticipate your further questions, with the DPRK is, as I said, to address a broad range of issues, beginning with those related directly to our national security. These include especially North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and those issues that are identified in the Perry report. We're going to cover in Rome the implementation of the Agreed Framework and other issues of related concern.

Kumchang-ni, which we can get to, is an example, of course, of such an issue where our concerns were addressed successfully. And that visit is going on.

So we're seeking to set the stage for a fundamental change in the way we and the DPRK conduct our bilateral relations as our concerns on these issues are addressed.

QUESTION: There's a juxtaposition between the phrase "common -- you have to be almost biblical scholars here -- a juxtaposition between "common concern" and the framework agreement. I understand you're concerned about missiles. You haven't found a way yet to, you know, get a hold of that problem. But I thought six years ago you resolved the concern about their nuclear program, the nuclear weapons program, you know, with an agreement where you provide et cetera, et cetera.

MR. REEKER: Right.

QUESTION: Is there concern now that that agreement is -- that North Korea is holding to that agreement or the related "common concerns" on other programs?

MR. REEKER: I think the latter is what we're focusing on in terms of discussing the full range of issues of "common concern." I can't delve into those in any great detail. You've seen the Perry report, and those are the issues that they're talking about as we try to sort of seek a fundamental change in our relationship there.

Anything further on North Korea?

QUESTION: How hopeful are you that the North Koreans will still send a senior government official to Washington?

MR. REEKER: As I said yesterday, we expect the high-level visit. You'll remember that they accepted our invitation for that reciprocal visit. It was just a year ago, in May '99, that Dr. Perry and Ambassador Sherman visited Pyongyang, and so I'm sure in Rome today, perhaps tomorrow, they will be continuing discussions on that visit.

QUESTION: Has the North asked for more food or made any other requests during the just-started talks?

MR. REEKER: As I said, I'm not aware of anything coming out of those talks and, as usual, we won't have anything to read out on them until the conclusion.

QUESTION: Can we actually go to North Korea -- to Kumchang-ni?

MR. REEKER: To North Korea, and I'm not going to be able to add much.

QUESTION: It's still supposed to start tomorrow?

MR. REEKER: The US team is there and the schedule calls for the site visit to begin tomorrow, that's right, the 25th.

QUESTION: How long will be going the meeting -- these talks in Rome?

MR. REEKER: The Rome talks -- they don't have a set end date so we'll wait and see how long they go.

.....................

(The briefing was concluded at 2:20 P.M.)

[end of document]



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