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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Six-Party Talks To Focus on Specifics for a Nuclear-Free Korea

08 November 2005

Fifth round of talks scheduled to begin November 9 in Beijing

The fifth round of the Six-Party Talks aiming for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula will focus on the specific steps that must be taken to end North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

Ambassador Christopher Hill, who heads up the U.S. delegation for talks that also include North and South Korea, Japan, China and Russia, told reporters in Beijing -- where the talks are being held -- that the focus will be on "the next steps" and "the undertakings that we've all agreed to make" for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

"I thinksome of the delegations have some specific ideas," he told reporters shortly after arriving in Beijing November 8.  "For me it's a real opportunity to hear what some of my partners have come up with in terms of how they would like to go forward.  We have some thoughts of our own, but I think the main thing is to see how we can take an agreement of principle and begin to see how an agreement of principle can be put into practice."

The fourth round of Six-Party Talks ended on an optimistic note September 19, when North Korea signed an agreement in principle to end its nuclear weapons programs.  The fifth round, which begins November 9, is expected to delineate the technical tasks necessary for implementation of the September agreement. (See related article.)

Hill said he anticipates that this session of Six-Party Talks will be relatively short.  He and other Six-Party delegates will be attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum meetings set to begin November 12 in Busan, South Korea.  President Bush will attend the economic leaders' meeting November 18-19.  (See Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).)

For more information on U.S. policy, see U.S. Policy Toward North Korea.

Following is the transcript of Hill’s press appearance:

(begin transcript)

Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill
Six Party Talks
Arrival Traders Hotel
November 8, 2005

A/S HILL:  Hi. How are you?  Have you been here since September?  It's great to be back.  I just got off the plane so I really don't have a lot to report today.  I'm going to try to get some sleep and I think that tomorrow morning we're going to have a delegation meeting then I'll meet with the Chinese first thing, and I think we begin our talks at around ten o'clock. We anticipate this is going to be a fairly short session.  Many of the delegations have to get ready for APEC next week in Busan.  So, I think we're going to review where we are after the September agreed statement and discuss some of the next steps and especially discuss some of the undertakings that we've all agreed to make, especially the undertaking to have a nuclear free Korean Peninsula.  I look forward to getting back together with all my negotiating partners, some of them I haven't seen since I last was here in September.  And we'll take it from there.

QUESTION:  Are you going to propose a roadmap of action for action this session?

A/S HILL:  I think some of the delegations have some specific ideas.  For me it's a real opportunity to hear what some of my partners have come up with in terms of how they would like to go forward.  We have some thoughts of our own, but I think the main thing is to see how we can take an agreement of principle and begin to see how an agreement of principle can be put into practice. 

QUESTION:  Are you going to have bilateral talks with South Korea?

A/S HILL:  I think there will be a lot of bilateral talks.

QUESTION:   Tonight?

A/S HILL:  Tonight?  I don't even know what time it is. [Laughter] 

QUESTION:   They wanted...

A/S HILL:  They wanted bilateral talks tonight?  I don't know.  Don't you think I need a shower first? 

QUESTION:  You'll think about it?

A/S HILL:  I'll think about it.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, you said earlier that you wanted to go to North Korea.  Why was it that you weren't able to make it and what's your objective this time?  Would you just be happy to go away with nothing more than coming back sometime toward the end of the year with more negotiations?

A/S HILL:  I look to talking to the Chinese hosts about this.  Clearly, we need to make progress in the next three days, but we also have to be mindful of the fact that we've got APEC coming up next week.  I think what we need to do is to discuss the way ahead and how we might all proceed, and I know that some of the delegations have some very specific ideas on that and I look forward to hearing them.  And as for future travel schedules, there will be travel but I can't say at this point precisely when.

QUESTION:  What do you think should be the first step in the way ahead?

A/S HILL:  I think the first step really is to look at the issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  That's why we're here, that's why there is a six party process.  We'll need to see specifically how the undertakings that the DPRK made in terms of denuclearization are going to unfold.  Again, I'm not talking about how to negotiate those undertakings with other undertakings.  I'm simply talking about the technical task of identifying what the steps are to have a real denuclearization.  Thank you all very much, but I really ought to get to sleep.

QUESTION: When will [inaudible] tomorrow morning?

A/S HILL:  I'm sorry?

QUESTION:  [Inaudible]

A/S HILL:  Where will I leave...Oh, when will I leave? I don't know what time it is now let alone what time tomorrow morning, but I think the meetings at Diaoyutai start around nine, so I suspect we'll be leaving here...

QUESTION:  So you will meet the Chinese delegation at nine?

A/S HILL:  My understanding is I have a meeting with the Chinese delegation, but I also want to meet with some of the other partners as well.  And I'm very jetlagged, so I might be up at four thirty in the morning, so I'm really not sure.

QUESTION: Any reason for being late here in Beijing?

A/S HILL:  Yes, impossible to get a flight, just a lot of people coming.  We have a lot of U.S. people coming from Washington in connection with the President's visit.  I would have preferred to be on the flight earlier today so that I could have had some of those bilateral discussions this afternoon rather than tomorrow morning, but we'll manage and I'm sure we'll have plenty of time in the next few days.

QUESTION:  Does Bush coming put any more pressure on these talks? This round of talks?

A/S HILL:  I think these talks have their own set of pressures that are quite sufficient.  I don't just do North Korea, I also do East Asia Pacific and with APEC coming up there are a lot of responsibilities there [inaudible].

QUESTION:  Are you going to APEC?

A/S HILL: Yeah, I'll be there.

QUESTION:  Do you think APEC will have good impact or bad impact on the Six Party Talks?

A/S HILL:  I don't know.  I think they are two very different processes.  APEC is a meeting of economies, there are a lot of economic issues, there are a lot of international issues to deal with at APEC.  Presumably there will be some discussion of what we're doing here at APEC.  I think the agendas are not overlapping so much.  Thank you very much.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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