Albright to Visit North Korea, Clinton Visit Possible
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
October 12, 2000
PRESS BRIEFING BY
SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT
AND AMBASSADOR WENDY SHERMAN
October 12, 2000
MR. BOUCHER: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. The Secretary of
State will come in. She'll have a brief statement and be able to take
a few of your questions. As you can imagine, she is extraordinarily
busy this morning, and so she'll take some of your questions and then
we'll turn it over to Ambassador Sherman to continue with the
questions on Korea.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: ...Finally, during the past two days, as you know,
I have been pleased to host a delegation from the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea. The delegation was headed by Chairman Kim Jong Il's
Special Envoy Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok, and First Vice Foreign Minister
Kang Sok Ju. Never before have our two governments met at this high a
level. On Tuesday, the Special Envoy delivered a letter from Chairman
Kim to President Clinton. On Wednesday, we had meetings here at the
Department of State, and the Special Envoy met with Secretary of Defense
Cohen at the Pentagon. And we also took turns hosting dinner.
Our expectations for this week were realistic. The differences that
have existed between the United States and the DPRK are extensive, and
of long standing. They will not be erased overnight. Our policy has
been to explore, through our diplomacy, whether it is possible to
remove, over time, the obstacles to a better and normal relationship.
This is important to our own security and to that of friends
throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and it supports the engagement
policy of our ally in Seoul, including President Kim Dae Jung's bold
vision of a Korea moving toward permanent reconciliation and peace.
Our discussions with the DPRK representatives reflected the serious
approach that both sides brought to the table, and during these two
days, we took a very substantial step away from the frozen and distant
relations of the past. This progress is evidenced by the joint
communiqué the United States and the DPRK are releasing today, and
that communiqué outlines agreement on a number of key points.
These include the importance of the North-South dialogue, a mutual
declaration of no hostile intent, an affirmation of the DPRK's
moratorium on the testing of longer-range missiles will continue. And
as the communiqué reflects, our two countries are moving in a positive
direction, and we are on the right road but, as both sides recognize,
we still have far to go.
Accordingly, the Government of North Korea has invited me to visit
Pyongyang in the near future, and I have accepted. The purpose of my
trip will be to explore opportunities for further progress on a range
of regional and bilateral issues. I will also be making preparations
for a possible visit to North Korea by President Clinton.
The steps cited in the communiqué issued today have been coordinated
closely with our South Korean and Japanese allies. These measure
represent a continuation of the policy developed with them and
presented formally in the report issued by former Secretary of Defense
William Perry a year ago.
In the days ahead, as in days past, we will be in close and regular
consultation with our allies in Seoul and Tokyo, and our unity and
coordination has been critical to the steps that have been taken
toward a more stable Korean Peninsula. The Special Envoy's visit to
Washington has moved us closer to the improved relationship with North
Korea that we have sought contingent on concrete progress toward
resolving the important problems that have separated us. The United
States is committed to making further gains, and we will continue to
work hard to that end.
Thank you. I now will take some of your questions.
Q: Thank you. I just want to clarify with you, Madame Secretary, you
said presidential visit about a presidential visit to Pyongyang. You
said visit by President Clinton. But this statement said possible
visit by the President of the United States. So does this mean -- do
you mean that President Clinton is supposed to visit Pyongyang at the
earliest possible, by the end of year? And next question is, when do
you expect you go to Pyongyang?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Believe me, I don't make commitments on behalf of
the next President of the United States. (Laughter.) So, yes. And, you
know, I will be going very soon, by the end of the month probably, and
then President Clinton -- I think he hopes to go. We're going to work
very hard to make it possible. And if we assess that we can make some
serious progress on our key issues, this will proceed. But no date has
been scheduled for him, and it's important that I go. I'm very pleased
that the Vice Marshal proffered an invitation, and I will, as I said,
try to go by the end of the month.
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: I'll be glad to try to answer any other questions
that people might have on this. Anybody? You want to go right quickly
about other things?
Q: Okay. So it's down to some positive discussions. What do you think
were the best or the most interesting conclusions, as far as you're
concerned, having been at this for a long time?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: I think that what has occurred over the last two
days is the continuation of a process, as the Secretary said, that
began with the Secretary and the President asking Bill Perry to
undertake a review of our policy. We developed that policy. We laid
out for everyone what our objectives were. We clearly are continuing
to pursue those objectives and believe, based on the discussions that
we've had over the last two and a half days, that there is enough
evident to us that makes a trip by the Secretary of State appropriate,
and to work to prepare for a possible trip by the President.
Q: Is there any more food aid planned, or was there any more food aid
or humanitarian aid pledged? And was there any more progress made on
opening offices in each other's capitals?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: We continue to do what Americans are known for,
and that is being generous in our response to the World Food Program's
appeals. We have always done so when people are hungry, and we will
continue to do so with North Korea in the way that we have in the
past. We will continue to do so.
And your second question was on the liaison offices?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: We had discussions about diplomatic
representation. We felt we made some progress in those discussions,
and I expect that they will continue.
Q: At this point, can you say exactly what the North Koreans would
need to do to get off the terrorism list? And as a follow-up to that,
could you say what being on the terrorism list prevents the US to do
at this point in terms of its relationship with North Korea?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: The discussions that Ambassador Sheehan, our
Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism, and Ambassador Kartman, our overall
negotiator, had with North Korea have been very positive. They have
resulted in the issuance of a statement about a week and a half ago, I
guess -- or I've totally lost time, not quite a week ago, I guess now,
last Friday -- where both sides agreed that it was important foreswear
international terrorism and to undertake those responsibilities of
member states of the United Nations. There are still some steps that
North Korea must take for the President to begin the process of
removing them from the terrorism list. They know what those steps are.
They are in response to the law, which is quite clear, and we hope to
continue to make progress in that regard.
And in terms of what they lose, I think that many of you have already
reported that by being on the US terrorism list, there are several
things, but one of the most key is that we cannot support them for
membership if they meet eligibility requirements to international
financial institutions, so the economic doors for multilateral
support, at least with any US assistance, remain closed.
Q: Just to follow up, will there -- is the US still saying that the
North Koreans need to hand over the, I guess, four remaining members
of the Red Army?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: We have been very clear with them about what steps
they need to take.
Q: Is that still a condition at this point?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: We have been very clear with them about what steps
they need to take, sir.
Q: Madame Ambassador, joint communiqué is usually announced at the
same time, but North Koreans announced at 4:00 a.m. today, and you
announced it later. Was there an understanding between the two?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: What the understanding was is that we would each
be free to release the communiqué as they left this morning. And,
quite frankly, we didn't think to wake you all up at 4:00 a.m. this
morning, and knew the Secretary was having a press conference this
morning and that it would be delivered to you during normal business
hours. But we're perfectly comfortable with how things have proceeded.
Q: The Secretary intends to go as early as by the end of the month.
She wouldn't be going to a designated terrorist state. The North
Koreans, I believe, must have made some kind of pledge as to when they
would dispose of the Red Army terrorists, and how they would take care
of the other steps they need to do?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: I would note for you that the Secretary of State,
and for that matter, the President of the United States, have been to
Syria, which remains on the US terrorism list, so it is not a bar to a
Q: One of the things that the United States has been looking for is a
demonstration of North Korea's sincerity about improving security in
Northeast Asia, is a redeployment, a redisposition of its troops along
the DMZ . I'm wondering if you have received any -- as part of this,
as part of the non-hostilities declaration, that you are going to see,
that we are going to see, some kind of redeployment of North Korean
forces, including the thousands of artillery pieces that are within
range of Seoul? Have they undertaken to make that kind of
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: I would make two comments in regard to your
question. First, nothing in this communiqué changes our security
alliance with the ROK, with Japan, with our other allies and security
alliances in the region or in the world. Nothing will change.
Secondly, I believe there are ongoing discussions which started a few
days ago between the North and the South, between their defense
ministers, to look at military confidence-building measures and other
things that might reduce tensions on the Peninsula. And we will do
what we can to support that effort, as is appropriate to the security
of our forces and the region.
Q: Is there any -- just a follow-up. One of the things that the North
Koreans were looking for was assistance in locating and disposing of
mines that are preventing the opening of a railway link between North
and South Korea. Has the United States given -- as part of this, is
the United States willing, or have you given any undertaking that we
will in fact give that kind of assistance to North Korea, given what
has happened over the last couple of days?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: There have been ongoing operational discussions
with our commander in the ROK and his role as head of the UNC to talk
about how in fact to clear mines within the context of the armistice
for the project to reconnect the railroad. And those operational
discussions are going, I think, quite well, and the US military will
play its appropriate role in supporting this effort to reconnect the
Q: What is the current status of diplomatic normalization between the
US and North Korea? Is it the full-scale normalization, or partial
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: Well, I think we said in the Perry Report that we
hope to accelerate the process of normalization of our relations as
our concerns were met, and those concerns are well-known and
well-listed in the Perry Report. And so, therefore, this is a
step-by-step process. The Secretary of State visiting North Korea is
certainly a step on that path, but we obviously need to continue to
see more progress in the areas of deepest concern to the United
Q: I was wondering if you had any response to the comment by Vice
Marshal Jo during his toast at dinner, and what he said that Kim Jong
Il would proceed quickly with normalization of ties once he receives
security guarantees about the territorial integrity of North Korea.
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: They have said to us privately what they said
publicly last night, which is that they are looking for assurances
about our recognizing their sovereignty and their right to exist, and
to have a country that conducts affairs in the ways that other
countries in the world do. And we will study further the conversations
we have had. We have additional conversations to be had, including
very significant ones that the Secretary of State will have, not only
with the Vice Marshal, but with Chairman Kim Jong Il himself, when she
visits North Korea. So we have much more work to do.
Q: And is the timing -- is the reason you haven't announced a date yet
for the trip because of the Middle East? Is there an issue here of
working out when she can go?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: No, no, no. We told the North Koreans that we
would try to schedule this before the end of the month. That is our
intention, and the only reason we don't have specific dates yet is
because all of this just happened, and we have to sit down and we have
to figure it out.
Q: I guess a follow-up to that, and then also I have a question about
the missile -- the offer of the missile program. Is the reason that
you're scheduling this for the end of the month that you got a lot of
momentum out of this visit, and you want to continue that, or is it
specifically so you have enough time for a presidential visit before
the end of his term?
And then, also, how intensive were the discussions about Kim Jong Il's
offer to President Putin of Russia about the missile program, and are
there any concrete plans for US involvement in such a project?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: In terms of scheduling, there are many
considerations to scheduling, including of course if you have momentum
in a diplomatic process. But I think fundamentally we take the steps
in a step-by-step process as we make progress on the issues of concern
to us in consultation with our allies, and I am very appreciative of
the strong support by the ROK and Japan this morning for the
Secretary's visit and for the progress that we have made.
On the second point, on the Putin question, we believe, based on the
discussions that we had, that there is validity to this idea. We
expect to have further discussions.
Q: I'm wondering, based on the series of discussions with General Jo,
if you got any clear vision or clear idea about what, like, Kim Jong
Il's remark about the missile program during his conversation with
Russian President Putin?
And also, could you -- if possible at this point, could you elaborate
a little bit further on the content of the letter from Kim Jong Il to
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: In terms of the Putin idea -- the Kim Jong Il idea
presented to Putin, based on the discussions we had, we believe there
is validity to this concept, and we expect to have further
discussions. And I have no more detail to offer at this point, because
we are in the midst of ongoing discussions.
On your second point -- sorry?
Q: The contents of the letter from Kim Jong Il to the President.
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: It is a diplomatic correspondence, so obviously I
am not going to elaborate the details of the letter. But it was a
letter that one would expect from one leader to another, that both
introduces the Special Envoy that he is sending, and also tries to
define the hopes and the vision that he has for an improved
relationship between our two countries.
Q: I want to make sure, for double check about the timing of the
possible visit of President Clinton. And how about, can we expect
after the APEC meeting summit meeting?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: One of the things I absolutely will never presume
to do is to schedule the President of the United States. We know that
the Secretary will go by the end of the month. We would hope that if
things continue to go positively that the President will visit soon
thereafter, but you would have to turn to the White House in terms of
specific scheduling matters.
Q: In the joint communiqué it says that both sides have agreed on the
desirability of greater transparency in carrying out obligations under
the Agreed Framework. Could you elaborate a little bit on that? And is
this to say that, at this point, we don't necessarily have a full --
or we don't have full inspectors looking at the North Korean nuclear
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: We have 24-hour inspectors at the site that came
under an issue of the development of the Agreed Framework, so the IAEA
remains 24 hours a day. What this refers to is that Ambassador
Kartman's fine negotiations with North Korea resulted in access to
Kumchang Ni. We have acknowledged in this communiqué that it creates a
model for the kinds of transparency that we will continue to discuss
with them and move toward in our relationship.
Q: I mean what -- just to follow up -- what do we know at this point,
what do we not know in terms of our ability to check on North Korea's
nuclear program? I mean, do we feel confident that we know of all
their sites at this point?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: I think that you are getting into matters of what
we know and how we know it, and I think that's probably not
appropriate for a press conference. Let me suffice to say that I think
that we have very direct and straightforward discussions with the
North Koreans about concerns we have. Ambassador Kartman has
discussions with the North on these matters on a regular basis, and we
feel, based on the Kumchang Ni experience, and as reflected in this
communiqué that we have a good model and a good frame for discussing
any concerns that might come up in the future.
Q: Are there any specific conditions placed on North Korea regarding
the possible visit of the President, given that the North Korean media
and Kim Jong Il are likely to use this as an attempt to show that the
regime is legitimized by the rest of the world -- you know, the leader
of the free world coming to North Korea -- and obviously given the
fact that most of the world considers that Kim Jong Il is responsible
for at least severely repressing his population and condemning many of
them to starvation?
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: I think the Secretary put it best when she said
that if we continue believe, building on the discussions that we have
had over the last two and a half days, and actually over the last many
months, that we will make serious progress on some of the issues of
particular concern to the United States, that taking the step-by-step
process that would lead to a summit between the President of the
United States and Chairman Kim Jong Il, we will go forward to such a
summit. The President is hopeful that we will be able to do this, and
so we are undertaking -- and have been undertaking -- all of the work
that would make such a summit necessary for it to succeed.
Q: Is that, then, a tacit statement that of course the United States
disagrees very much with North Korea's political situation and
whatever, but the issues here are so important that, for a time at
least, they may have to be put on one side just because it's such a --
AMBASSADOR SHERMAN: We don't put any issue on one side. During the
time that this delegation was here, we covered the range of issues,
not just the ones you would expect that are most serious security
concern to us like missiles, but we also discussed human rights and
religious freedom; we discussed transnational issues like
counterfeiting and law enforcement activities. We discussed our
concern for our missing from the Korean War and actually thanked the
North Koreans and hoped for their continued cooperation to try to
locate and recover all of the remains. We discussed an incredible
range of issues, because they are all on our agenda and we are very
concerned about that whole range of issues.
There is no question, however, that there are some priorities for
immediate resolution, and those obviously would be ones of security
interest to us.
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