Albright Remarks at National Press Club on N. Korea
(Her visit was part of process to bring peace to peninsula) (6780)
Describing her visit last month to North Korea as part of "a historic
process aimed at creating lasting stability on the Korean Peninsula,"
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says the United States would
pursue peace without any illusions about the Pyongyang regime.
"This process is a key component of the Clinton Administration's
strategy for promoting peace and for reducing the dangers posed by
weapons of mass destruction," Albright said in prepared remarks
November 2 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Albright said that President Clinton will decide "soon" whether a
meeting between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il "would
contribute to our goals of security and reconciliation."
America's immediate interest is to "make gains on core security
issues," she said, adding that few human rights imperatives are "more
meaningful than preventing war."
The Secretary of State said she hopes cooperation in that area would
improve the climate for broader discussions at a later time.
Albright said U.S. policymakers would be "irresponsible" if they do
not take advantage of "a historic opportunity to move beyond 50 years
of Cold War division and reduce the danger North Korean missiles pose
to us and to others around the globe."
The same thinking applies to the possibility of a meeting between
President Clinton and Chairman Kim, she continued.
Albright stressed that the U.S. approach to Pyongyang was developed in
close consultation with Seoul, noting that South Korean President Kim
Dae-jung has said that "the best way to move forward with Pyongyang is
to focus on specific security, economic and humanitarian issues."
To critics of the Clinton administration's policy toward Pyongyang,
Albright suggested that the "risks of trying to work with North Korea
are less than the ongoing costs of confrontation."
Albright told reporters that the United States and North Korea made "a
good start on an array of long-range missile issues, both indigenous
programs and exports."
The United States, as well as the leadership in Seoul and Pyongyang,
recognizes that divisions and disagreements "accumulated over more
than half a century cannot be erased overnight," she said.
But, Albright continued, the two sides have made a start toward "a new
kind of relationship, in which attitudes of confrontation are
supplanted by habits of cooperation, and even the most basic
differences of philosophy can be frankly discussed."
Following is the State Department transcript of Albright's remarks
followed by a question-and-answer session:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
November 2, 2000
REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT
AND QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION AT NATIONAL PRESS CLUB
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Jack, and good morning to you
all. I appreciate very much that all of you are here. I expect that
some of you may still be recovering from Halloween. I know that I am,
and I have never had so much fun. Of course, I also have never walked
around a neighborhood knocking on doors costumed as Barry Schweid.
(Laughter.) I had to do far fewer tricks and got many more treats.
But now down to business. Today, I want to report to you - and,
through you, to the American people - regarding my recent trip to the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea. This visit is part of a
historic process aimed at creating lasting stability on the Korean
Peninsula, the world's most prominent remaining Cold War frontier.
This process is a key component of the Clinton Administration's
strategy for promoting peace and for reducing the dangers posed by
weapons of mass destruction. It embodies an approach, developed with
our close allies in Seoul and Tokyo, for building, if we can, a new
and mutually beneficial relationship with Pyongyang.
I said on the day that I took office that I would do all I could to
explain clearly the who, what, how, and especially the why's of
American foreign policy. That is especially vital on this subject,
because the process in which we are engaged is long term. Even if all
goes well, it will require sustained congressional and public support
to succeed. The next president will have to choose whether to continue
down the path we have begun. Respectfully, I hope he will and believe
he should, because I am convinced it is the right path for America,
our allies, the people of Korea, and the world.
As you know, my trip to Pyongyang was the first ever by an American
Secretary of State. While there, I had a chance to visit with North
Korean children who are being fed through the heroic efforts of the
World Food Program. I had a series of meetings with the DPRK's top
leaders, with whom I reviewed a wide range of topics, including the
Inter-Korean dialogue, economics, terrorism, human rights and
I met at length during my stay with Chairman Kim Jong Il and made
substantial progress in key areas, including the security matters that
were our main focus. My impressions of Chairman Kim were far different
than the stories about his past might lead one to expect. He was
practical, decisive, and well prepared for our discussions. As a
result, our talks were pragmatic and productive, which is very much to
But having said that, let me be clear. I have studied communist
systems all my life, and I have no illusions about the nature of such
regimes. As Chairman Kim would be the first to acknowledge, there is
an abyss between his political ideology and ours. North Korea is among
the least free nations on earth. There is little, if any, respect for
global norms of human or civil rights. From the top down, the emphasis
is on uniformity, order and discipline. The result is indeed order,
but at a heartbreaking cost in human happiness, creativity and
welfare. Chairman Kim and I referred to our profound political
differences in our talks, but we did not allow them to obstruct
America's immediate interest is to make gains on core security issues.
There are, after all, few human rights imperatives more meaningful
than preventing war, and I hope that cooperation in this area will
improve the climate for broader discussions at a later time.
Our approach was developed in close consultations with our allies in
Seoul. President Kim Dae Jung has said publicly that the best way to
move forward with Pyongyang is to focus on specific security, economic
and humanitarian issues. He has also made clear that, given the DPRK's
authoritarian structure; progress can only come through direct
discussions with Chairman Kim Jong Il and his closest advisors.
There are some in our country who think they know more about what is
right for Korea than Kim Dae Jung and the Korean people, and they
argue it is wrong for our leaders to meet with those of the DPRK.
These commentators are certainly entitled to their point of view but,
without dialogue, we are stuck with the status quo, and I believe the
risks of trying to work with North Korea are less than the ongoing
costs of confrontation.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone has often been described as the world's
most dangerous place, and understandably so. For decades, heavily
armed forces on both sides have stood poised, face to face, prepared
for battle. North Korea especially has filled the airwaves with
propaganda and hate. Periodic incidents and accidents have sometimes
brought us to the threshold of conflict, and we must never forget that
37,000 American troops are among those at risk.
For many years, the United States has worked to create a stable
environment in Korea and throughout East Asia. Our goal is a region
where no nation seeks to dominate others, and all nations cooperate
for prosperity and peace. A fundamental question has been whether the
DPRK would ever find its place within such a vision.
When President Clinton took office, the outlook was not good. The new
Administration learned that Pyongyang was violating its obligations to
the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, and was actively engaged
in developing nuclear weapons. In March 1993, instead of answering the
IAEA's questions, the DPRK announced plans to withdraw from the
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. I was representing the United States
at the UN then and remember thanking the DPRK representative for his
speech. "You have made me feel 40 years younger," I said, "with your
rhetoric from the deepest depths of the Cold War."
Tensions were rising quickly, and the chances for miscalculation were
high. President Clinton responded with vigorous diplomacy, backed by
America's ongoing security presence. Administration officials,
including then Assistant Secretary of State Robert Gallucci, and with
important help from former President Jimmy Carter, raised our concerns
directly with the DPRK and received a measured response. This led to
the 1994 Agreed Framework, which froze plutonium production at
Yongbyon and Taechon, blocked North Korea's surest and quickest path
to building nuclear weapons, and later helped make possible visits to
suspect underground sites at Kumchang-ni.
As the decade wore on, another security concern arose. In 1998, the
DPRK launched a Taepo Dong missile in a failed attempt to orbit a
small satellite. This raised alarms throughout the region and in our
own country, because a North Korean long-range missile capability
could undermine security and heighten tensions well beyond the 38th
parallel. It could also spark a regional arms race and harm the global
Moreover, Pyongyang's practice of peddling its missiles and missile
technology abroad could endanger stability in other key regions,
including the Middle East. With backing from concerned leaders in
Congress, President Clinton and I asked former Defense Secretary
William Perry to conduct an extensive review of our policy towards the
DPRK. Working with an inter-agency group headed by the State
Department Counselor, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, this review was global
in scope. Secretary Perry consulted repeatedly with our allies in
Seoul and Tokyo, spoke with officials in China, Russia and Europe, and
listened to advice from academic experts and NGOs.
Dr. Perry's team placed special emphasis on a two-way exchange with
members from both parties on Capitol Hill. And as I said earlier, our
goal was to develop a policy that would be effective in the region but
also have bipartisan support at home so that it would continue
regardless of the outcome of next Tuesday's elections.
Dr. Perry's recommendations were accepted by President Clinton and
published a little more than one year ago. And they continue to guide
us today. These recommendations begin by making the fundamental choice
to engage with North Korea directly and now. They combine diplomacy
and deterrence for the purpose of ending the DPRK's destabilizing
weapons activities, and they envision the possibility of better and
normal relations as our concerns are met.
Following months of negotiation led by Special Envoy Chuck Kartman,
and soon after the Perry report was released, President Clinton
announced the easing of US economic and trade sanctions against North
Korea. Shortly thereafter, Pyongyang pledged to observe a moratorium
on flight-testing of long-range missiles of any kind for the duration
of our bilateral talks.
More recently, the North Koreans hinted that they might agree to
permanent missile restraints if arrangements could be made for others
to launch their satellites into orbit. We discussed this possibility
with representatives from Pyongyang on several occasions, but we
didn't know for sure prior to my trip whether North Korea was truly
serious about such an approach.
Not surprisingly, this was a major topic in my discussions with
Chairman Kim Jong Il, and we made a good start on an array of
long-range missile issues, both indigenous programs and exports. We
also agreed that further expert level talks should be conducted, and
that is why Assistant Secretary of State Bob Einhorn and his team are
in Kuala Lumpur this week meeting with counterparts from the DPRK.
I returned from Pyongyang convinced that the possibilities for
mutually acceptable arrangements on missiles are real and that this
could enhance the safety of the American people, our allies in East
Asia, and friends around the table. But we have to make sure. Twenty
years ago, we used the prescription, "Trust, but verify." Our message
to North Korea now is, "Don't test. That will verify the possibility
of a new era of confidence between our two countries."
I can make no predictions about the outcome, nor can I speculate about
how an understanding on missiles might relate to progress on other
matters such as economic cooperation and diplomatic relations. But the
bottom line is this: We are in no hurry. The substance of an agreement
matters far more than the timing. But if prospects for further
progress develop, we will pursue them. We would be irresponsible if we
didn't take advantage of a historic opportunity to move beyond 50
years of Cold War division and reduce the danger that the North Korean
missiles pose to us and others around the globe.
The same thinking applies to the possibility of a meeting between
President Clinton and Chairman Kim. I have reported to the President
on my trip, and he will decide soon whether a meeting would contribute
to our goals of security and reconciliation.
Throughout the past year, the DPRK has shown a willingness to discuss
our concerns in a serious and straightforward way. Some may ask why
this is true now when it has so often not been the case in the past,
and we cannot be sure of the answer. But we do know that North Korea's
economic problems multiplied after the Cold War ended and support from
the Soviet Union and Central Europe evaporated.
Today, North Korea is plagued by shortages of food, water, medicine,
power, fertilizer and other essentials. The incentives for adopting a
more open approach to the world are therefore strong. Moreover, the
DPRK has long professed reunification with the South to be its
ultimate goal. President Kim Dae Jung's sunshine policy - and
Chairman Kim's response to it - have altered the political dynamics
of the entire region.
Their summit in Pyongyang was surprising in its warmth and stunning in
its promise. It has been heartening since to see Korean families
reunited after decades of forced separation, a process we hope will
continue. It has been encouraging to see ministers from the two Korean
governments meet, and athletes from the South and North march into the
Olympic Stadium together.
It was also extremely gratifying to see President Kim Dae Jung awarded
the Nobel Prize for Peace. This is an apt honor for one of our era's
most courageous advocates of democracy and human rights. It also shows
the depth of world support for Korean reconciliation.
Ironically, some suggest that the Inter-Korean dialogue will be harmed
as US-DPRK relations improve. As evidence, they point to past efforts
by Pyongyang to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul. But such
concerns overlook the fact that relations between the United States
and South Korea have become 100 percent wedge-proof.
As I made clear during my trip, Seoul's agenda with Pyongyang is an
inseparable part of our agenda as well, and progress toward
reconciliation between South and North is both central to this entire
process and essential if ties between US and the DPRK are to improve.
After all, I would never have been able to go to Pyongyang if
President Kim had not gone there first. Moreover, the North should
find it easier to address concerns about the size of its military and
the status of its weapons programs if tensions with Seoul relax and
fears about its own security diminish.
I would also like to stress Japan's role in the effort to achieve
lasting stability on the Korean Peninsula. Prior to my trip, I
consulted by phone with Japanese Foreign Minister Kono about our
intentions and expectations. The day after the trip, I met jointly and
separately with South Korean and Japanese leaders in Seoul. These
consultations are part of a process of trilateral coordination that is
at the heart of our Korean policy. It reflects our alliance with
Japan, our friendship with the Japanese people, and our understanding
of Japan's strategic political and humanitarian interests in Korean
The United States strongly supports efforts by Tokyo and Pyongyang to
resolve the difficult bilateral issues that divide them, and all of
East Asia will benefit if Japan and the DPRK find the path to
cooperation. China, too, can contribute in important ways to the
process of reconciliation. Because the security of the Korean
Peninsula is threatened not only the presence of advanced weapons, but
also by the absence of peace.
As President Kim said recently, as relations with Pyongyang improve,
conditions conducive to the Four Party talks will ripen. He went on to
say that through the Four Party talks, the two Koreas will be able to
replace the old armistice with a new peace agreement, and that with US
and Chinese backing, peace will become institutionalized.
Like Seoul, the United States recognizes and welcomes China's
constructive role in Korea, and that of Russia, the European Union and
others as well. The broader the backing for peace, the more likely it
is that peace will be achieved. By any measure, the past year has been
an astonishing one on the Korean Peninsula. We have seen the
first-ever summit between Seoul and Pyongyang, the first visit by a
high-ranking North Korean official to Washington, and the first trip
by an American Cabinet member to the DPRK.
The result is the most contact between the South and North Korea in 50
years, and a chance to fundamentally transform relations between the
United States and the DPRK. The latter point is evidenced not only in
our progress on missiles, but also in our discussions and joint
statement opposing terrorism and in the mutual commitments made in
last month's Washington communiqué.
We have also worked together well on humanitarian issues, including
efforts to account for Americans still missing from the Korean War.
Any assessment of the Clinton Administration's approach to North Korea
must take into account not only what has happened in the region, but
also what has not. Without the Agreed Framework, the DPRK could have
enough fissile material for a significant number of nuclear weapons,
not only from the small reactor that was operating in 1994, but also
from much larger reactors that had been nearing completion at that
time. Without our dialogue, the DPRK would likely have conducted a
whole series of long-range missile tests. Without our engagement,
tensions within the region would have risen steadily; a dangerous arms
race would be underway; and, instead of moving in the direction of
openness, North Korea's isolation would be increasing.
The result would be a more dangerous world for our allies and for us,
and even greater hardships for the North Korean people. We recognize,
as do our counterparts in Seoul and Pyongyang, that the divisions and
disagreements accumulated over more than half a century cannot be
erased overnight. We have made a start, but only a start, toward a new
kind of relationship in which attitudes of confrontation are
supplanted by habits of cooperation and even the most basic
differences of philosophy can be frankly discussed.
Leadership in international affairs requires a willingness to take
calculated risks and explore the possibilities for creating a future
that does more than mirror the past. In years gone by, we have all
heard - and some of us have made - predictions that the Cold War
would never end, apartheid would never be defeated, Northern Ireland
would never know peace, and the Balkans would never embrace democracy.
Today, in Korea, it is possible to envision a future in which the 38th
parallel becomes just another line of latitude, in which North-South
contacts increase while tensions decrease, and in which visits to and
from Pyongyang no longer warrant the attention of the world. That
time, if it comes at all, will be long after my time as Secretary of
State, but it is a prospect well worth pursuing and a day that now
appears far closer than any of us could have anticipated just a few
Thank you very much, and I will now be very happy to respond to
whatever questions you might have.
QUESTION: Amnesty International has just found that Israel may well be
guilty of war crimes. Israel refuses to comply with UN Security
Council resolutions, yet you refuse to even condemn Israel's actions,
much less cut off US arms flow to Israel. Why?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, let me say that we obviously have
spoken many times about the importance of reducing the violence, and
we have all regretted terribly the tragedies of the people being
killed, and especially the children. I think that it is very important
that everything be done now to fulfill the terms of the Sharm
el-Sheikh agreements that were made.
I spoke earlier this morning with Israel's Foreign Minister Shlomo
Ben-Ami, who explained how the two sides are in fact now working
themselves to fulfill those various commitments. I think that the role
of the United States and of other countries is to do everything we can
to speak about the importance of ending the violence, helping them
work out the arrangements to be able to get back to the peace process.
That, I think, is the most important thing to do.
QUESTION: You mentioned children. UN estimates are that 5,000 children
are dying in Iraq, yet you continue the economic sanctions without any
delineation of how they might be lifted.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Do you get two questions?
QUESTION: If I can.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Sure, if your colleagues don't mind.
QUESTION: Why do you continue the UN sanctions without saying how they
can be lifted?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say this, and I am always very glad to be
able to answer questions about Iraq in order to be able to clarify. We
didn't invent Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein invaded another country,
and he pillaged it and he took prisoners, and he took a lot of their
property and trashed the place.
The United Nations Security Council imposed some sanctions and wanted
to make sure that Saddam Hussein would live up to them. That sanctions
regime is very much supported by the countries of the United Nations,
and continues to be in place. There have been - you're shaking your
head. We're not going to have a debate, let me just --
QUESTION: Well, I - you know --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Can I finish? So we were more concerned, I think,
than anyone about the tragic situation for the people of Iraq. When I
was Ambassador at the United Nations, we helped to write the
Oil-for-Food program. It now is worth $20 billion. They are able to
pump as much oil as they can, and the United Nations is distributing
And where the United Nations is able to distribute the food, the
children and the other people have better nutrition than in the areas
where it cannot. We are not responsible for the tragedy of the people
of Iraq. Saddam Hussein is. I refuse to have the United States blamed
for Saddam Hussein's invasion of another country and for having him be
the one that had weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, my question is on Latin America. There is
an editorial today in The Washington Post comparing the President of
Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, to Fidel Castro, and trying to advise the next
President of this country to be aware of this threat to Latin America,
and tell them to engage more in the region.
My question is why this Administration has been so friendly with
Chavez at the beginning, and now you are having a lot of troubles with
him? And what could be the legacy of this Administration to Latin
America? Only two photo ops? The Summit of the Americas - one in
Miami and the other in Chile?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think that this Administration has
spent more time working with a variety of Latin American countries
than any previous one. The President and I have taken more trips
there. We have spoken at length about the rising tide of democracy in
Latin America and some concerns, I think, that everybody has about
some of the difficulties of the second round of reforms in Latin
America, which would in fact give the people in those countries a
greater share of the fruits of democracy.
Clearly, there continue to be areas that are very difficult. Colombia
is obviously one that is receiving our greatest attention at this
moment because of how it is undermined --Colombia itself - the threat
of drugs, narco-trafficking for the region, as well as for the United
States and the world; and the spillover within the region of the
problems of Colombia.
I think our legacy in Latin America is of the greatest support for
democracy that has ever been seen for that hemisphere. I have - the
most radical thing that I did at the State Department, I think, was
actually to move Canada into the Western Hemisphere. For those of you
that don't know about the structure of the State Department, it used
to be in Western Europe. And by that way, trying to show the
solidarity of the hemisphere and all the things that we have in
On the issue of President Chavez, he was elected by the people of
Venezuela. We have been concerned by some of the methods that he has
adopted, and some of our concerns have to do with his OPEC oil policy,
but we have not compared him to Mr. Castro.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, in your discussions with Chairman Kim, did
he give you an idea of what he expects from the United States
economically in return for curbs on his missile program?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: You know, interestingly enough, he did not.
Obviously he has serious economic problems, and we talked about that.
We talked about this on the trip - that basically he sees that his
economic problems are serious. He blames them on a variety of things,
including and primarily the weather.
We have been great supporters of the World Food Program. In fact, when
those requests come out, we are the ones that give the greatest
amount. I was very glad at this kindergarten where I went to be able
to see the children that were benefiting from the American food that
was coming in from the World Food Program.
He has talked about this possibility of an exchange that we would help
undertake missile launches of peaceful satellites, and that would be
done under the technological safeguards that are necessary for that.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, there is a group called Peace Action. It
describes itself as the nation's largest grassroots peace group, and
it has put out last week its presidential voter guide comparing the
candidates, showing that Vice President Gore and Governor Bush agree
on five major issues that concerns them. They agree on increasing
Pentagon spending, spending $60 billion or more on Star Wars
anti-missile, giving aid to Colombia army guilty of human rights
violation. They both say we should not end sanctions against Iraq and
they both say we should not require labor and environmental
protections in all trade agreements.
Given this record - and they also point out that the Green Party
candidate, Ralph Nader, disagrees with Gore and Bush on all those
Given this record, why should American citizens concerned about peace
and justice not vote for the Green Party candidate?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I should have stopped you right off because - I
have said this many times, that when I became Secretary of State I had
all my political and partisan instincts surgically removed. I have
said at times that I need to go back and see the surgeon, but I do
think that it is very important to look at the record of the
Clinton-Gore Administration. We have spent more energy in terms of
trying to work on getting peace in a variety of areas regionally. I
think President Clinton and Vice President Gore can take great pride
in what has happened in the Balkans, where I don't think anybody ever
thought - we all heard these stories about that it was absolutely
impossible for there ever to be peace in the Balkans. They have just
had elections in Kosovo, and they are about to have elections in
We have also spent a lot of time on the Middle East peace, and
tragically at this stage there is violence, but both parties talk
about the necessity of returning to the peace process.
I think we have also done more in terms of trying to deal with
tragedies around the world that are of a humanitarian nature than
previously. I think one of the important questions that foreign policy
makers and students of foreign policy and commentators have to think
about is the value of humanitarian intervention and nation-building,
which is actually something that is positive, of trying to develop
democracies around the world.
So I am very proud to have been a part of the Clinton-Gore
Administration in developing peace and mutually better relations. And
my speech on Korea would indicate that this Administration has been
willing to test and push and take calculated risks in order to see
whether we can change a place on the earth which has been the most
dangerous, with armies of great force facing each other, in order to
try to change the dynamics there. And so I am very pleased with that.
QUESTION: We are curious about the satellite. Did they give you any
details of what they would like? What kind of satellite would it be?
And is this remote-sensing, and where would they like to launch it
from? And if it's from North Korea, how can you be assured that they
wouldn't turn around and take knowledge gained from that and use it
for their ballistic missile program?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, we have not yet had those kinds of
detailed discussions, but we have made quite clear that were we to
engage in this it would all be done in a way that dealt with all those
issues that you have raised and would, in fact, be done with the
proper kinds of safeguards that are necessary for that; that, in fact,
a launch service would be under the safeguards. But we haven't gotten
into those kinds of details at all yet.
But I think you need to consider the fact that if they want to launch
peaceful satellites, they are going to do it, and we might as well
have it in a way that we have some control over it through our
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, shortly after the Israelis and
Palestinians today announced a cease-fire, there was an explosion in
Jerusalem and the violence continues. Can you comment on that and the
challenge posed by groups who are opposed to any kind of cease-fire
and will launch attacks to undermine it? And can you also comment on
the ongoing questions of just how much control both Barak and Arafat
have over their respective groups?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think it is absolutely essentially
that we all condemn all acts of terrorism. I think that they are
launched by those who are the enemies of peace in order to disrupt
whatever processes exist. We keep making that very clear.
I think that we have to now see the extent to which this agreement
that was worked out during the night - former Prime Minister Shimon
Peres and Chairman Arafat had worked out - how it is going to be
carried out. But I think it is of significance that they actually have
worked this out together. It is in fulfillment of what President
Clinton worked on at Sharm el-Sheikh, but they did do it together, and
I think that's a very important sign.
I think what also now has to happen is that we see how these
commitments are fulfilled, and then move to the peace process. I do
believe that it is essential for Chairman Arafat to do everything to
control the violence, and I believe that he can and that he should.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, it appears that the pattern of US policy
with North Korea is to engage them as they become more dangerous or
make more threats. How does American policy towards North Korea, how
will it not encourage other autocrats around the world to pursue
weapons of mass destruction, given that we seem to have been engaging
them as they become, or appear to be, more dangerous?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I wouldn't characterize it that way. I think
that they clearly have been a danger, and we have made - nobody has
made any bones about that. As I said in my speech, the opportunities
for engaging them came about as a result of President Kim Dae Jung's
Let me go back to a couple of years ago, because we were so concerned
about what was happening. It is why the President and I asked Bill
Perry to undertake this review. He basically was able to lay out some
recommendations in terms of whether we would follow one path or
another, one that led to - if they were not willing to give us some
answers and engage - that would lead to a situation where we would
remain in a status quo, confrontational policy. But because of what
Kim Dae Jung did, and because of some of the overtures that I
mentioned in my speech, I think that it is worth pursuing and testing
and trying to figure out if there are openings.
As far as the larger question is concerned, I think that one of the
highest priorities of this Administration has been our policy of
dealing with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which
is why I think it is so important to maintain our sanctions on Iraq
and to make very clear that where we see problems, that we will point
them out and that we will try to take steps where we can with others
to lessen that danger.
But to me, the lesson is not the one that you state, but rather the
one that if there are possibilities for moving forward - and there's
no replica of somebody like Kim Dae Jung anywhere else - but if there
really are ways to try to devolve what is the most dangerous
situation, it would be irresponsible of us not to take this
And believe me, I've thought about this a lot. It isn't every day that
I take a trip like this last one. And I thought about the risks
involved, but I really think that I come down on the side that it
would be truly, truly irresponsible for an American Secretary of State
not to follow up on this opportunity with - I don't have my glasses
on; I have contact lenses today, but they're not rose-colored either
-- and I know what we're looking at. I think we just have to do it
very systematically, and test and probe, and see if there is anything
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, we understand North Korea is asking for
compensation for their giving up missile program. Will the
compensation fund be provided by the United States alone, or a
consortium formed like KEDO case?
I have another question for you. What is the present status of human
rights in North Korea? How bad is it?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think that you are several steps
ahead of where we are, where first we have to see what - this is what
some of the various technical aspects of the missile talks are going
on now in Kuala Lumpur and, so far, all that has been discussed was
the question of exchanges for the satellite launches. I think that we
will see as we move forward, but I think that I don't want to get
ahead of ourselves here.
On the human rights issue, the State Department put out a human rights
report on every country, and the North Korean one is not good, not
good at all - bad, in fact - in terms of people's basic human
rights, what happens to labor, religious freedom. We make no bones
about it. When I met with Foreign Minister Paek in Bangkok, I made
very clear that the discussion of human rights would be a constant
theme in whatever relationship we established because it is essential
to the United States.
But, as I said in my speech, I think it is very important for us to
understand what we are doing and what steps we are involved in. And,
at this stage, we are focusing ourselves on the security issue, never
leaving the human rights and terrorism issues out of the picture, or
questions about the POW-MIAs or the economic issues, but I think that
we are embarked on a long road here. I have said that we are closer to
the beginning of it than even the middle or the end, and we are very
much aware of the human rights situation. I know that I didn't see
anything in North Korea beyond what I was supposed to see, and I saw
an empty city, and I saw a perfectly orchestrated totalitarian
performance of people all dancing in step. Only a dictator can manage
to get 100,000 people to dance in step.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I'd like to follow up, if I may, on what
you said about the Middle East. We had this large explosion in
Jerusalem today in a very busy area, obviously meant to inflict major
casualties, this all in the light of the agreement between Yasser
Arafat and Shimon Peres.
In your own conversations yesterday with Acting Foreign Minister
Shlomo Ben-Ami, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about
how you reconcile all these intensive diplomatic efforts, and at least
the public commitment by the leaders to do what they can, and how
these agreements aren't reaching the street, and how these diplomatic
efforts can, and if at all --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, we have been in very close
touch. As I said - and I think he has actually now been named Foreign
Minister for real. I talked to him a little while ago. Saeb Erakat is
coming to Washington tomorrow.
This agreement was, in fact, reached during the night, and there were
a series of steps that they are supposed to follow through today. I
think that we have to, again, watch the extent to which they are
following through on these commitments that they made to each other.
And I really do stress the fact that they were the ones that did this
agreement without anybody else involved in it, in fulfillment of what
they said to President Clinton. But they did, in fact, agree to this
And I do think that there have been - and, unfortunately, always will
continue to be --enemies of peace who act through terrorist methods.
Bombs and explosions of that kind have to be controlled. We call on
the party - on Chairman Arafat to do everything within his power to
control these things.
But I do think you ask a very hard question of how agreements that are
made at one level get to the street. What has to happen is that the
leaders have to make public statements in which they condemn these
kinds of actions and the loss of life.
And we're going to keep working it. It is the hardest issue, a tragic
one, that has bedeviled the world for many years, and we will continue
to work on it and hope that the parties between themselves can
continue working. And we want to get back to the peace process. Having
the Foreign Minister here has been useful, having Saeb Erakat will be
useful, and we have said in the past that both the leaders would be
expected to come to Washington at some point.
Thank you very much.
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