Remarks by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Question And Answer Session at National Press Club
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman For Immediate Release November 2, 2000 As Delivered
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 humanitarian issues.
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 the good.
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 progress.
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,0/00 I said, ,with your rhetoric from the deepest depths of the Cold War.0/00
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 nonproliferation regime.
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.0/00 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.0/00
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 events.
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 communique.
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 years ago.
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 the food.
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 common.
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 issues.
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 Bosnia.
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 technology safeguards.
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 trip.
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 opportunity.
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 there.
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 between themselves.
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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