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On the Status of the Six Party Talks
'It's never been an easy sell in Washington,' says Chris Hill
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2007-10-04 12:09 (KST)   
At a press conference held in New York City on Tuesday, Oct. 2, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill answered questions and outlined some of his concerns regarding the recent session of the Six-Party talks (1) held in Beijing, Sept. 27-30.

Hill said that originally there was not to be a formal statement of agreement, but that on Sunday morning before the session was to end, the Chinese hosts distributed a draft of a short statement for the six parties to consider. Hill said that each of the parties took the statement back to their capitols to seek approval. For Hill, this meant flying to New York City to meet with Secretary of State Rice who had been attending UN related events. Then the proposal was brought to President Bush for his approval.

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When Hill was asked how difficult was the process of getting an agreement from Washington, he said "It's never been an easy sell in Washington." Hill explained the agreement in general terms, as the press conference was held before the statement was officially released.

By Dec. 31, 2007, Hill said North Korea agreed to disable its Nyongbyon nuclear facilities. Also by that date, there was an agreement to provide an accurate accounting for how much fissile material was produced by North Korea. In 2008, the Six-Party talks will move toward the issue of dismantling the plutonium producing facility. As an outcome of the talks, Hill hoped for the creation of a North East Asian Peace structure, but he felt there was still a long way to go to get to that goal.

When asked about whether the U.S. had agreed to remove North Korea from the U.S. government's state sponsors of terrorists list, Hill said that was something "we are working on with the DPRK." He said that "from our point of view any time we can work with a country to get them off the list, that's what we want to do." Hill also said that North Korea was being encouraged to improve DPRK-Japan relations. He did not say whether efforts were being made to encourage Japan to improve Japan-DPRK relations.

In response to another question about removing the designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, Hill said that the U.S. wanted to "work through the past history that had led to the DPRK being put on that list."

A reporter asked what it would take to move from the armistice of the Korean war to a peace agreement ending the war.

"From the U.S. point of view if the DPRK is prepared to denuclearize we are prepared to reach a peace agreement," replied Hill. There would need to be a number of issues considered, he explained, to reach a peace settlement. When questioned about North Korea's concern that there be an end of hostility by the U.S. toward it, Hill said that the U.S. was hostile to proliferation and that there was no hostile policy of the U.S. to North Korea.

When asked about the problems that had existed regarding the U.S. Treasury Department's action freezing North Korean assets in the Banco Delta Asia (2), Hill said that that situation related to the need of the U.S. to protect its financial system and its currencies. "We would like them (North Korea-ed) to have access to the international financial system," he explained, "but they have to play by the rules everyone else plays by."

He didn't elaborate further on this issue or on whether North Korea's regaining access to the international banking system was a matter being considered in the negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea.

In response to a question about why it seemed negotiations were entering a sensitive stage, he explained that what was happening was to have the U.S. on the ground involved in disabling the nuclear facility. It was "not just paper any more," he observed.

Another reporter asked Hill what problems he saw in the future that he was concerned about. Hill responded that what keeps him awake is that they are focusing on the step to be taken but that "the process won't be successful unless we reach the goal." The DPRK will need to give up its fissile material and weapons, explained Hill, so he was concerned that there were those in the army in North Korea who might not want to get to the last step.

"When we finish this job", Hill said, the parties will have come to understand what it means to come together and solve the problems. In this process, Hill felt that North Korea would get the sense of "what it means to be part of a community."

Full Text of the Joint Document

The Second Session of the Sixth Round of the Six-Party Talks was held in Beijing among the People's Republic of China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States of America from 27 to 30 September 2007.

Mr. Wu Dawei, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, Mr. Kim Gye Gwan, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK, Mr. Kenichiro Sasae, Director-General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Mr. Chun Yung-woo, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs of the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Alexander Losyukov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and Mr. Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Department of State of the United States, attended the talks as heads of their respective delegations.

Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei chaired the talks.

The Parties listened to and endorsed the reports of the five Working Groups, confirmed the implementation of the initial actions provided for in the February 13 agreement, agreed to push forward the Six-Party Talks process in accordance with the consensus reached at the meetings of the Working Groups and reached agreement on second-phase actions for the implementation of the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005, the goal of which is the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.

I. On Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

1. The DPRK agreed to disable all existing nuclear facilities subject to abandonment under the September 2005 Joint Statement and the February 13 agreement.

The disablement of the 5 megawatt Experimental Reactor at Yongbyon, the Reprocessing Plant (Radiochemical Laboratory) at Yongbyon and the Nuclear Fuel Rod Fabrication Facility at Yongbyon will be completed by 31 December 2007. Specific measures recommended by the expert group will be adopted by heads of delegation in line with the principles of being acceptable to all Parties, scientific, safe, verifiable, and consistent with international standards. At the request of the other Parties, the United States will lead disablement activities and provide the initial funding for those activities. As a first step, the US side will lead the expert group to the DPRK within the next two weeks to prepare for disablement.

2. The DPRK agreed to provide a complete and correct declaration of all its nuclear programs in accordance with the February 13 agreement by 31 December 2007.

3. The DPRK reaffirmed its commitment not to transfer nuclear materials, technology, or know-how.

II. On Normalization of Relations between Relevant Countries

1. The DPRK and the United States remain committed to improving their bilateral relations and moving towards a full diplomatic relationship. The two sides will increase bilateral exchanges and enhance mutual trust. Recalling the commitments to begin the process of removing the designation of the DPRK as a state sponsor of terrorism and advance the process of terminating the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act with respect to the DPRK, the United States will fulfill its commitments to the DPRK in parallel with the DPRK's actions based on consensus reached at the meetings of the Working Group on Normalization of DPRK-U.S. Relations.

2. The DPRK and Japan will make sincere efforts to normalize their relations expeditiously in accordance with the Pyongyang Declaration, on the basis of the settlement of the unfortunate past and the outstanding issues of concern. The DPRK and Japan committed themselves to taking specific actions toward this end through intensive consultations between them.

III. On Economic and Energy Assistance to the DPRK

In accordance with the February 13 agreement, economic, energy and humanitarian assistance up to the equivalent of one million tons of HFO (inclusive of the 100,000 tons of HFO already delivered) will be provided to the DPRK. Specific modalities will be finalized through discussion by the Working Group on Economy and Energy Cooperation.

IV. On the Six-Party Ministerial Meeting

The Parties reiterated that the Six-Party Ministerial Meeting will be held in Beijing at an appropriate time.

The Parties agreed to hold a heads of delegation meeting prior to the Ministerial Meeting to discuss the agenda for the Meeting.
(1) For an earlier press conference by Hill about the talks, see "U.S., North Korea Move to Open Ties Christopher Hill and Kim Kye-gwan hold meeting in New York on first steps"

(2) While the $25 million of North Korean funds have now been returned to North Korea, the problem of North Korea being denied access to the international banking system has not yet been resolved. Describing some of the problems that the U.S. Treasury Department action against the Banco Delta Asia posed as an obstacle to the progress of the Six Party Talks, see for example: North Korea's $25 Million and Banco Delta Asia, Behind the Blacklisting of Banco Delta Asia, Weapons of Mass Destruction Syndrome and the Press?
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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