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☞ Issue 84
글씨크기 크게 글씨크기 작게 기사 메일전송 기사 출력
On the Status of the Six Party Talks

'It's never been an easy sell in Washington,' says Chris Hill

Ronda Hauben (2007/10/07 20:56)  

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.

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."
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