US Ambassador says, “No Bilateral Talks with North Korea”

[imText1]Christopher Hill, the US Ambassador to Korea who visited China yesterday, had a breakfast discussion meeting with “the Korea University Journalists Alumni Association” as an honered invitee. In the meeting Mr. Hill said, “North Korean nuclear problem must be solved through the six-party talks, and we are not considering bilateral talks outside format of the six-party talks.”

The discussion meeting consisted of short introductions by Ambassador Hill followed by questions by the panelists.

In his brief introduction prior to receiving questions, Ambassador Hill said, “I personally have a strong will to solve the North Korean nuclear problem diplomatically. We have agreed with the Chinese officials on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and solving the North Korean nuclear problem through the six party talks.”

He implied that there is no “new and special proposal” between the US-China meeting which he returned
only a few hours before the morning meeting by saying, “As a diplomat, it was my job to meet the Chinese officials, and that is why I visited China.”

“I cannot assure you that the six party talks will succeed. However, I can assure you regardless of whether it will succeed or not, the partnership of the other six talk member countries will become closer,” he said.

Ambassador Hill also emphasized that the “real logic is solving the nuclear problem in a diplomatic way. If North Korea feels any threat, it is due to the inability to build the economy and the nuclear development caused their economic decline.”

The following are the questions and answers by the panelists and Ambassador Hill.

Are there any new opinions you exchanged with Chinese high officials during your visit to China?

We are agreed about bringing North Korea back into the six party talks. We also are agreed that we have to solve the problem not through the media but in the negotiations. The Chinese government said they will do their best to bring North Korea back. North Korea’s return does not guarantee good results of the six party talks. However, their return will be a starting point.

American and South Korean intelligence agencies evaluate North Korea’s nuclear capability differently. When they do not share information, how could they cooperate?

There can be different evaluations according to different methods of studies. However,
both governments agree that they will not allow North Korea to possess nuclear weapons. What I can say for sure is that there can be different opinions on how many nuclear weapons North Korean has, but they both agree that nuclear weapons must be dismantled.

What is the role the US expects of China and South Korea?

China and North Korea have a special relationship. We hope China uses this relationship to bring North Korea back to negotiations. The US and China have a shared opinion on denuclearizing North Korea. I understand the special relationship South Korea has with North Korea. What the neighbor countries must do is to agree on the method of approach so North Korea does not take advantage of the differences. Although there can be different formats in approaching this, I believe the six party talks is the best way.

Will the US be willing to propose new suggestions to North Korea?

The third six party talks held in last June had very inclusive (general) suggestions. I believe it is North Korea’s turn to respond. North Korea must say, this is what we can accept and this is what we cannot accept. Instead of other countries trying to figure out how North Korea will react, it is more productive for North Korea to come to the negotiation table and explain the details of their perspectives on the proposal.

If North Korea does not come to the negotiation table, then what happens?

I am a negotiator. It is for me to bring the best results out of the negotiations.

Is there a possibility for the US to accept North Korea’s request for bilateral talks?

All negotiations are possible in the format of the six party talks. All formats are possible too. However, bilateral talks outside the format of the six party talks are not beneficial.

What do you think is the objective of the North Korean foreign policy in stating that they possess nuclear weapons?

I am not a psychologist. What is clear is that North Korea is at a dead end if it precedes with nuclear development. The more North Korea excludes itself, the more the other members of the talks be consistent and concrete.

Did the US make it clear that the South Korean government’s aid to North Korea is inappropriate at the time?

What is important in the present is how to arrange each other’s methods of approach. As of now, it is going well.