Remarks to the Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Special Representative for North Korea Policy
INTERPRETER FOR SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM SUNG NAM: This is Special Representative Lim Sung Nam. We had a one-hour discussion this afternoon with Ambassador Davies today. Ambassador Davies debriefed me about the result of the U.S.-DPRK meeting that took place during the last two days, and we had a very in-depth and wide-ranging discussion on results of the U.S.-DPRK talks. Now, we agreed that in the process of peacefully resolving the issue of denuclearization of North Korea through dialogue and in this process of resuming the six-party talks, the U.S.-DPRK talks that took place yesterday and the day before were substantive and useful. On the basis of today’s discussion, we will continue our cooperation and consultation on how we will go forward down the road. Now I invite Ambassador Davies to talk about the meeting of the last two days.
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE GLYN DAVIES: Sung Nam, thank you very much for hosting me here at the Foreign Ministry today. It is always a pleasure to come to Seoul, and I am happy that I was able to come here just eight weeks after my last visit. Of course, it has been a very dramatic couple of months, has it not, since I was last here in December of last year. There have been important developments, in particular, in the DPRK. What the Ambassador and I discussed, indeed, as he said, and he put it quite well, were the results of the discussions that the United States side held with the DPRK in Beijing. His characterization of those discussions is absolutely accurate. It was – these were serious discussions. They were in-depth, they covered a wide range of issues. I obviously made the point, and I made it quite early in our talks with the DPRK, that it is very important to us that the DPRK find a way to improve its relations with the Republic of Korea. And we also talked, of course, at great length about the issue of denuclearization as we try to find our way back onto the path of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. So again, I thank Sung Nam, Ambassador Lim, very much for the opportunity to come here today. I wanted within 24 hours of completing our talks with the DPRK to come first to Seoul to report, and I have done so, and we will see where we go from here. But it was a good beginning with the new government in the DPRK and I was very glad to get the advice of Ambassador Lim.
QUESTION (VIA INTERPRETER): My question goes to Ambassador Davies. So, last time when you came to Seoul, in December last year, the denuclearization of North Korea and food aid to North Korea – the food assistance to North Korea – was directed to the vulnerable class of North Korea, and then it was the humanitarian assistance so they were not entirely connected, but this time there was a progress made, you mentioned there was some progress made, so in that sense how were these two issues of denuclearization and food assistance related, and if there are some specific issues, then what were those issues that were reconciled?
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: [Cross talk to clarify question….] Right, well, our trip to Beijing to meet with the DPRK side was, of course, principally to discuss the issue of denuclearization and how to get back on the path of denuclearization and having North Korea once again fulfill its commitments, try to convince the North Koreans that what they need to do is fulfill their commitments made in the September 2005 Joint Statement. So that was the core issue of the talks that we had with the North Koreans. Now, they did raise the issue of humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian assistance and the nuclear issue are not directly linked. For us, the issue of humanitarian assistance is an issue that relates to the fact that the United States is deeply concerned about the welfare and well-being of the people of the DPRK. We make decisions about humanitarian assistance based on need, based on the availability of assistance to provide, and based on competing needs elsewhere in the world. Also very important to us is whether or not we can verify that that assistance reaches the populations in need. The issue came up in our discussions with the North Koreans so we outlined to them our policy, but there is no direct linkage between the nuclear issue and the issue of nutritional assistance.
QUESTION (VIA INTERPRETER): I would like to know if we can assess that there is improved willingness on the side of North Korea with regard to denuclearization. This question is directed to Ambassador Lim on denuclearization. And also, I would like to ask if following this third round of U.S.-DPRK talks you are planning to have another round of inter-Korean talks.
INTERPERTER FOR SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM: With regard to whether or not North Korea has a serious willingness with regard to denuclearization will have to be proved through North Korea’s concrete actions. With regard to your question on the inter-Korean talks, as you know, there were two rounds of inter-Korean talks that were held last year, as well as the two rounds of the U.S.-DPRK talks. And it is our understanding that the U.S.-DPRK talks that took place during the last two days took place as a result of the talks that were held last year. And also, in the process of the resumption of the Six-Party Talks this year, I hope to have another round of the inter-Korean talks.
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM: Do you want to add?
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Well, no, all I wanted to say, I thought I understood that the question partly related to whether there was another round planned of U.S.-DPRK talks. But that was not the question.
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM: That was not the question.
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: That was not the question. (Laughter.) Oh, by the way, there are no, there is no additional round of U.S.-DPRK talks planned, to anticipate any questions you might have.
QUESTION: I have a question for Mr. Davies. This might be a question that adds to what the reporter just now asked Mr. Lim. He said, Mr. Lim said there is expectation that another round of inter-Korean talks is held. And was this type of issue ever raised during the talks in Beijing when you met Mr. Kim Kye Gwan, and do you have any hope or expectation for such a round of talks?
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: To answer your question, I stressed, in my discussions with First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan and his team, that there can be no fundamental improvement, any full improvement in U.S.-DPRK relations without a fundamental improvement in the relationship between the DPRK and the ROK. That was a point that we always make when we meet with the DPRK. I made it again, quite categorically, in the discussions in Beijing. I cannot report to you that there was, in response from him, any indication of any immediate plans to hold another round of inter-Korean talks.
QUESTION (VIA INTERPERTER): Korea and the U.S. have been saying that in order to resume the Six-Party Talks in the future, North Korea and South Korea – the inter-Korean relationship – be improved and the inter-Korean dialogue should first take place. My question goes to both of the Ambassadors. Has this principle, this view, this position changed in any way? Since North Korea has been scoffing at our offer for dialogue, is there any future plan to bring North Korea back to the table?
INTERPERTER FOR SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM: As Ambassador Davies has explained in detail right now, without improvement in the inter-Korean relations, there cannot be a fundamental improvement in relations between the U.S. and the DPRK. With regard to the importance and the necessity of improvement in inter-Korean relations, the ROK and the U.S. are in complete agreement. Now, with regard to how to translate this agreement into specific actions, I request you to stay put and watch how everything goes down the road.
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE GLYN DAVIES: I agree completely with my good friend Lim Sung Nam that is our position as well and we will continue to raise this issue with any contacts that we have with the DPRK in the future.
QUESTION (VIA INTERPRETER): Since this was the first dialogue between the U.S. and DPRK after the new leaders in Pyongyang came into office, if is the difference between before and after the new leadership please tell us about it and if there are any new suggestions or offers from the DPRK can you let us know more about it.
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE LIM: I think it is a question for you
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES: Yes, thank you for that question very much. I spoke to this to some extent in Beijing. What we found in our two days of discussions with the DPRK side was more continuity, more similarity, than difference. So, both in terms in the positions articulated by the DPRK side and in terms of, let’s call it the style, it struck me that we were in fact dealing with a very much the same set of issues, and the same essential negotiating style with which we are familiar. I also said, and I would like to reiterate, that I think it’s significant that in a relatively short period of time after the change of leadership in the North they decided, the DPRK, to reengage. But as with any other difficult challenge in diplomacy, I think the answer to your question, which is a good one, will only become clear over time with greater interaction between the DPRK and the other members, all of the other members of the six-party process. So, finally, we hope, and we expect, that the DPRK will choose to go down the path of greater engagement, and indeed ultimately of greater cooperation, in particular with the Republic of Korea, that’s fundamental, that’s essential, and there is no way to make ultimate progress unless they make that decision and they follow through on that decision over time. So thank you for your good question.