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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Review of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's First Trip to Japan, Indonesia, Korea, and China

FPC Briefing
Christopher R. Hill
Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Foreign Press Center
Washington, D.C.
February 26, 2009

Date: 02/26/2009 Location: Washington D.C. Description: Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, at the Washington Foreign Press Center Briefing on "Review of Secrertary of State Hillary Clinton
3:30 P.M. EDT


MODERATOR: Good afternoon and welcome to the Foreign Press Center. We are very honored and privileged to have Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill here, who, as the Secretary said, is one of our most outstanding diplomats. Mr. Hill.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here. I think I was here for your Christmas party, so it was --

MODERATOR: You were. (Laughter.) You remember that well.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Great to be back, even though you’re not serving as many refreshments as you did then.

Anyway, I’ve been asked to report to you a little on the Secretary’s, we thought, very successful trip through East Asia. What I thought I’d do is, you know, say a few opening words about it and then go right to your questions, with your permission. I take that as a yes. All right. (Laughter.) Anyway --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, okay. Just making sure you’re happy with that.

First of all, it was a very important trip because it was the Secretary’s first trip abroad as Secretary of State. I think it was also a very significant trip because it was one – just about the first time a Secretary has been to Asia on a first trip. I think Dean Rusk may have done that in 1962, but one had to go way back into the 1960s before you could find an example of the Secretary of State going to Asia first.

The first stop was also very significant to visit a very close ally, Japan, and in – during the visit, the Secretary conveyed an invitation to Prime Minister Aso to visit Washington, a visit that’s actually already taken place just a couple of days ago. I think the trip to Japan – the Secretary feels very comfortable in Japan, has been there several times before, and took the opportunity not only to speak with Japanese officials, but also to try to reach some of the Japanese people directly. She met with a couple of the abductee families. She had the honor of meeting – of having tea with the Empress. She also visited the Meiji Shrine. And later in the day, she went to Tokyo University and did a kind of town hall with the – meeting with the students there.

During the visit, she signed the Guam International Agreement, which is a – I think for us, a very important bilateral instrument because it really kind of sets the way in terms of the force redeployment in Japan, and I think kind of sets us up for sort of the next phase of this very important alliance. There was also considerable discussion while we were there about the fact that Japan will host the Pakistan Donors Conference and Friends of Democratic Pakistan Conference, and I think it’s going to be late March or early April.

And the Secretary committed to having Ambassador Holbrooke come to Japan and take part of that. So a lot of very good bilateral discussions. Obviously, the discussion about North Korea and the Six-Party Talks was a very important element of the official program there.

From Japan, the Secretary went – we went south to Indonesia. I thought this was also important because we wanted to reach out to our ASEAN friends in Southeast Asia, and with Indonesia as the world’s third largest democracy, the Secretary wanted to recognize this very vibrant democracy, to have some focus on the U.S. economic and security commitments to Indonesia, and also the – a lot of discussions about what we can do to strengthen bilateral educational exchanges, things like that.

We talked about this partnership with Indonesia, things we can do together. She had, I think, very good meetings with President Yudhoyono, with Foreign Minister Wirajuda, who actually told her that of the intake now in the Indonesian foreign ministry, some 50 percent of new officers coming into the Indonesian foreign ministry are women. She also, while in Indonesia, had the occasion to have a dinner that was co-hosted by our Ambassador, Cameron Hume, and also the Director of – for Democracy Studies, Lily Munir, a civil society dinner where people of all walks of life in Indonesia were able to come, and there was a very – I think a very good discussion there. The Secretary also visited a U.S. aid project in a neighborhood in Indonesia.

And finally, while there, the Secretary made, I think, a first-ever visit to the ASEAN headquarters and spoke to the ASEAN Secretary General Surin, and assured him of a couple of points: one, that the U.S. was going to begin the interagency process of acceding – of bringing – of having the U.S. accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, which is an issue that we’ve talked about for many years with ASEAN, and this is the first time they’ve received a commitment from a Secretary of State to proceed with this, with the idea that we will – we will accede to the treaty.

She – the Secretary also told – told Secretary General Surin that indeed, she would be attending the ASEAN ministerial, the ARF ministerial in July. So I think it was a very important step for the Secretary to make assurances to the ASEAN countries that we are really going to invigorate that – the relationship with ASEAN.

From Indonesia, we went back north up to Korea. Now, I know people were getting out their maps and sort of wondering what this itinerary was all about. But frankly, it was all about scheduling, because we found that some foreign ministers were available at some times and that necessitated the sequence of events, which was Japan, Indonesia, and then back up to Korea and China. But it was for scheduling purposes that we did that.

And in Korea, the Secretary had, I think very – first of all, very important meetings with President Lee Myung-bak, with Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, and also with Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan. She also met with General Sharp, who’s the U.S. Force Commander there, and had a town hall meeting similar to the one in Tokyo as well – actually, but it was at Ewha University, which is the largest women’s university in the world, and a university that actually has a – one of its sister relationships is with Wellesley College where Secretary Clinton attended and where my daughter attended, too. (Laughter.)

So at Ewha, you know, I’m sure some of you had an opportunity to see it, but you know – 3,000 people there, and it was really quite a festive occasion. The Secretary called on various students, as she did at Tokyo University as well, but at Ewha there were a range of questions that went well beyond foreign policy. There were issues like being a parent and how do you reconcile – how can you work on being a good parent and being a good political leader, and things like that. It was quite a meeting.

In the discussions with the Korean officials, there was a good discussion about the Republic of Korea’s assistance to Afghanistan and what we might look forward to in the future. There was also a very complete discussion of the relationship – of the North-South relationships, that is, South Korea’s relationships with North Korea and also what the future of the Six-Party Talks holds.

While in Korea, the Secretary reaffirmed the U.S. interest in maintaining a very robust Six-Party process, and also took the occasion of being in Korea to announce the appointment of Ambassador Bosworth to be the new North Korea policy coordinator. And indeed, I think some of you attended the meeting earlier today where the Secretary announced that Stephen Bosworth will be going off to the region early next week.

Overall, the trip to South Korea was really in the nature of assuring one of our strongest allies in the region of our continued interest in building this relationship further, and in underscoring our commitment to use the Six-Party process to try to reach progress on the denuclearization of North Korea.

From Korea, we went on to China and there, the Secretary met with senior Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao, and addressed – and there too, I think the conversation ranged across many subjects, but the Six-Party Talks was very prominent among them. The Secretary also went out to a U.S. equipment investment and a thermal power plant – not a thermal nuclear plant. (Laughter.) They use gas and steam and stuff like that.

The Secretary also used the occasion of being in China to announce an enhanced high-level strategic dialogue, which – with consultations on economic issues, international security, and development issues. There was also a good discussion about cooperation on clean energy and climate change. And in fact, at all of the stops, the Secretary was accompanied by the new Climate Change Envoy Todd Stern.

And finally, in discussing issues of concern to the international community, there was particularly a focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan, but also a discussion of other trouble spots in the world, including Darfur and Sudan and Burma as well.

During her meetings with Chinese officials, the Secretary also addressed human rights issues, explaining not only in the private meetings, but also in a press conference, the importance that we attach to promotion of human rights and religious freedom, and the fact that this remains, I think, a very important pillar of our diplomatic engagement. So in talking to the Chinese, this was a – as it was in the other countries, a first visit, but I think a commitment to a continued strengthened dialogue and an effort to try to find areas of cooperation.

So it was four nations in six days. Those of us who were on it are rather tired, but we’ve struggled our way back to Washington. And even though we’re waking up at 3 in the morning, we’re still able to come here to the Foreign Press Center and take your questions. (Laughter.) So thank you very much.

MODERATOR: I would ask you to all please wait for the microphone and give us your name and the media organization you represent.

Okay, the gentleman.

QUESTION: Gou Zang with CTI TV of Taiwan. Mr. Secretary, Prime Minister Aso of Japan, upon his visit – return from his visit to the United States said in the Japanese Diet that the U.S.-Japan security treaty covers, actually, the disputed Diaoyu Islands. Does the United States share his view? And should Diaoyu Islands become a place for conflict? Would the United States intervene on the side of Japan? Thank you very much.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: With respect to that particular question, I’d like to take that question and get back to you with a comprehensive answer on it. I’d rather – it’s an important question and I want to get the proper guidance from the State Department, so if you don’t mind, we’ll make that a taken question.

QUESTION: Thank you. Can I ask one --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You can ask one that I’ll take right here. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Sure. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. During Secretary Clinton’s discussions with the Chinese leaders, how did the issue of Taiwan fare? My point being, how did the relaxation of relations across the Taiwan Strait have an impact on her discussion with the Chinese leaders? Thank you very much.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think the Secretary reiterated longstanding U.S. Government, really, bipartisan consensus views that there should be a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan Straits tensions, and that the current – and that the improvements that we’ve seen in recent months are welcomed, and we want those to continue. There was also a discussion of – from a U.S. perspective, of our desire to see a continued development or a continued – continued development of additional international space for Taiwan. But overall, the discussion about Taiwan was in the context of welcoming the recent progress in terms of relaxing tensions and a desire to keep that progress going.

MODERATOR: The gentleman here.

QUESTION: Thank you. Chin from the Straits Times. Sir, I would like to ask you, is the U.S. working to lift all restrictions on Indonesia now that it is clearly looking to expand ties with Jakarta? And I believe President Jose Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste himself yesterday, interestingly, had a speech in D.C., made that appeal to Washington. I was just wondering if I could get your response on that.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: This is an issue that has been – certainly been something that the Secretary has been in discussions about. As you know, there are some congressional – congressionally imposed restrictions on some of the military cooperation. I think in this regard, the Secretary was very interested in going to Indonesia and getting a sense of the situation there, and I know the Secretary will be in – looking, or has asked us, really, to look at the overall issue of the U.S.-Indonesian relationship, and to see where we can – we can do more in the future.

I must say one of the key areas in doing more in the future was not so much in security, although that’s obviously extremely important to us and ones that we – and one that we do want to develop. But I think the Secretary very much wanted to see what could be done in terms of educational exchanges, because when you look at the number – you know, the size of Indonesia and the number of Indonesians who are studying in the States compared to other countries that were on the trip, including Japan, Korea and China, you can see that Indonesia is much smaller than those. So there was a lot of discussion about things that we could do to invigorate the educational exchanges.

With regard to security relations and issues like that, I think the Secretary was very interested in getting a direct sense of that when she was in Jakarta, with the purpose of continuing the dialogue within Washington to see what can be done in the future.

QUESTION: Thank you, Secretary. Jin-Ho Kim with Kyunghyang Daily News of South Korea. I’d like to ask you if you could – the reexamination of North Korean policy of this – of the Administration is finished or – getting finished, one? And also if they – if you’re finished with the reexamination, are you going to announce in the form of a statement, just like another administration did in – eight years ago?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think I wouldn’t expect a single statement with respect to the issue of examining North Korean policy. I think the Secretary has made clear her strong view that we ought to continue with the Six-Party process, if this is an appropriate platform on which to move ahead.

In so doing, we want to do it – as Ambassador Bosworth said today, we want to do it together with our partners, and to understand what our partners are saying, to be listening as much as we’re talking there. And in that regard, the Secretary has asked Ambassador Bosworth to go to the region and to listen and exchange views with our partners here, with a view to seeing what can we do to move the process forward, what can we do to get back to the table and to complete the phase two and to move on to phase three.

So I wouldn’t look for any single announcement of a policy review; rather, I would look at a sort of way how we’re looking to see the way forward by working closely with allies and partners in the region.

MODERATOR: I’m going to give New York the next question. Go ahead, New York.

QUESTION: Yeah, my question is similar. I wondered if there is a sense of how to ease the tensions between South Korea and North Korea, and the U.S. and North Korea? And I just wondered if in – you did say there was talk with China and with the other countries in the region on the issue. I just wondered if there’s anything you have to report about what that talk, you know, said and what – you know, what was discussed with regard to that, what’s going to be built on by the current visit of the representative to the region now. Is there any – any background that he can – you know, he will be referring to? And then I have a second follow-up question.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Can she get a follow-up question?

MODERATOR: First of all, could you identify which – who you are so we have it for the record, please?

QUESTION: Ronda Hauben and it’s Ohmy News International.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Korean internet news. (Laughter.) I know them well.

There was in Seoul a considerable discussion about the deterioration of North-South dialogue. And the Secretary made very clear in her press conference in Seoul that we are not interested in developing relations with North Korea at the expense of relations with South Korea. And she also made very clear our view that North Korea should be doing much more to work on its relationship with South Korea.

Some of the North Korean statements about the situation over the relationship with South Korea, and in particular, their statements about the South Korean president are really quite inappropriate and quite unhelpful to moving forward. And I think the Secretary made that very clear when she was in Seoul.

The United States very much wants to get back to the table. We want to make progress. I think we’ve made very clear to the North Koreans that we are prepared to move forward with North Korea in the context of their denuclearization. But, you know, North Korea has a responsibility to improve its relations with its neighbors. Part of what we do in the Six-Party Talks is to build a neighborhood. And if one member of the neighborhood is constantly casting stones at other members of the neighborhood, this is not conducive to what we’re trying to build.

So I think we feel in this current context that this is time to work very closely and intensify our bilateral ties to South Korea.

MODERATOR: Okay. One quick follow-up question in New York as long as there’s no one else in New York.

QUESTION: But I wondered if on the – when the Secretary of State was in China and – I thought that she spoke with “netizens” a bit on – in China Daily. Was that accurate? Did she have a discussion with people online a bit? And I wondered, the issues that came up, if that was – if any of the, you know, what – if she found that interesting, if she did have that discussion. I mean --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The appearances, and including internet through, I think a web chat, if I’m not mistaken, I think she valued those meetings because it’s an opportunity to, you know, reach out directly and deal with citizens in the country. She had, for example in China, a very good meeting with women NGOs, who spoke very movingly, very eloquently about their – the issues facing women in – you know, in, for example, rural China.

I personally didn’t attend the web chat, but my recollection was that it had gone very well, and she found the questions very interesting.

MODERATOR: The lady.

QUESTION: Nami Inoue from Tokyo Broadcasting System. During this trip, Secretary Clinton – I think it was in a plane to South Korea – talked about Kim Jong-il’s status and then showed her concern about the future leadership in North Korea after Kim Jong-il. I thought that was rather unusual for a U.S. official to talk – touch that kind of a topic. So was there any intention behind that? Why did she talk about that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think what you see is the Secretary reflecting a style that, frankly, I wish a lot of other people would use, which is to be very honest and especially honest about how we're analyzing situations. And certainly, when you look at the behavior of North Korea in recent months, you do get the impression that some of this unusual behavior reflects some internal developments.

But at the same time, I think the Secretary also made abundantly clear that we are dealing with the North Korean Government. We are not looking to change the North Korean Government. That’s not for us to do. What is for us to do is to try to work with the North Koreans insofar as they come to the Six-Party table, and I think she made that very, very clear.

So I know there is a lot of interest in this comment, but I think people need to understand the Secretary would like to speak clearly and try to, you know, explain her view of what is going on at the same time. And we’re just going to deal with the – with the government we’ve gotten. And we’re not talking about changing anyone’s government.

MODERATOR: Okay. In the middle.

QUESTION: Constance Okokwu, This Day news, Nigeria. The U.S. has expressed concerns about China’s foray into Africa. I was wondering in the coming months, how does the United – State Department hope to work with China, particularly when business interests clash with conflict resolution and advancement of democracy?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think the U.S. would want to be in close contact, close consultation with China on issues that are of international concern such as, for example, the situation in Zimbabwe and the situation in Darfur, for example. But I think the U.S. also wants to work very closely with China on issues related to economic assistance and to see whether we can prevent mistakes from being made and mistakes that might, you know, reinforce the things that we don’t want to see reinforced in Africa, and to see if we can work together on economic assistance in a way that it will really be helpful to Africa. So I think there was very much a commitment by the new Administration to work as closely with China, based on the assumption that China shares the U.S. goal which is shared by African governments that we should help Africa further develop.

MODERATOR: Staying in the middle.

QUESTION: Thank you. This is Arshad Mahmud,, Bangladesh. I know you said that we didn’t we didn’t go there. But anyway, I have a general question, which is did you actually notice any significant change in the tone and attitude of Mrs. Clinton representing this new government vis-à-vis, say, when you traveled with Secretary Rice? And I’m sure if we pull up our old notes, you – we could find more or less the same thing that you said just now – it was successful, it was very, you know, encouraging, this and that. But just to give – give us your honest assessment. (Laughter.) Did you actually notice any perceptible change in this new Administration? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You want my honest assessment. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Tell us what you think about your boss. (Laughter.)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yeah. Look, you know, obviously I have some personal assessments; I think they should stick with me. And as for the question of tone and the question of the sort of things that Secretary Clinton chose to highlight on her trip or the agenda that she chose and comparing that to her predecessor, I think that’s really your job, not my job. (Laughter.) So I don’t think there is any comment I need to make. But I think you’re – you’ve had some thoughts on that, and I’d suggest you get them out on your – what is it, you’re an internet journalist?


ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: So plenty of blogging space for things like that.

QUESTION: Jae Hoon Ryu,with The Han Daily in South Korea. I’d like to know the conclusion of the consultation about the North Korean missiles. North Korean Government said that they – it’s not the missile, it’s the satellite, and they are determined to launch the satellite. So I’d like to know the conclusion of the consultation with – between states.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we haven’t concluded our consultations. I mean, the Secretary was talking to Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan just – I think just hours ago, I mean, in the last 24 hours. So we are – I think we are really of one view that this is an issue that really constitutes a violation of UN Security Council 1718 and possibly other Security Council resolutions.

So we have a very intensified consultation with the South Korean Government, as we do with some other governments in the Six-Party process, about what the best way would be to deter this launch. Because though the North Koreans talk about it as being a satellite launch, you can see that it, you know, looks an awful lot like a missile launch. And there are reasons it looks a lot like a missile launch, because it essentially is a missile launch, whatever the payload.

And we have a country that rather prides itself in its opaqueness, prides itself in not telling anyone what is really going on there, and meanwhile, a country that has taken pride in the fact that they have separated plutonium and claim to have weaponized it. And obviously, when you add up all those developments, you can see that we have some very deep concerns about the missile launch. And we have shared those with the South Koreans, and the South Koreans have shared their concerns, and we’re trying to figure out the way forward. And I think part of Ambassador Bosworth’s trip will be to continue that process.

MODERATOR: The lady in red.

QUESTION: My name is Joowoon Jung with Voice of America. You dealt with North Korea for the last three years. If you could maybe evaluate the result of the negotiation you had, how many points would you give out of ten? (Laughter.) And my second question is there’s a high possibility that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il will listen to this. What kind of message do you want to give out?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Do you think he listens? You think he listens to Voice of America?

QUESTION: He might. I think so. I believe so.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: He could get in big trouble for doing that. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: You know, I think anytime you got into negotiation with North Korea, you’re looking at a rather – you know, an uphill struggle. Obviously, when we got into it, North Korea was running a reactor and producing plutonium. And the plutonium they produced really started in 2003 and was really continuing right through 2005. So I thought the most important thing to do in the Six-Party Talks was to get that stopped.

And since we began in earnest in the summer of ’05 and arriving at the joint statement in September of ’05, North Korea has not produced any more plutonium. Since that time, since we got that joint statement from the negotiations in September ’05, there has been not an additional gram of plutonium produced. So that’s, I guess, an accomplishment.

We’ve also gotten them to disable some of the facilities, something they had never done before and hadn’t done through the Agreed Framework period. So I would also put that into the category of an accomplishment.

We set up a process by which we would give them a finite amount of fuel oil and a finite amount of political consideration in return for these steps. And if they wanted more such fuel oil or more political considerations, they’d have to go deeper into denuclearization. So I think that the structure was good. I think it was important that we worked closely with China, because I think ultimately the key to getting North Korea to give up this – these nuclear aspirations will be in making sure that all the countries in the region share that goal, and I think we have certainly done that with the Six Parties.

So there are a number of things on the positive ledger, compared to how we found the situation, where the Agreed Framework had been ended and nothing put in its place, and so during that time when nothing was put in its place, they were producing plutonium, which I thought was kind of bad. So I think – so I think all that’s positive.

But then on the negative of the ledger, you know, we have a commitment from the North Koreans to completely denuclearize, to abandon all their weapons, all their programs, and we can see that we’ve only gotten part way there and we have a long way to go. The North Koreans do reaffirm their commitment to the September ’05 joint statement in which they are to give up all their nuclear – abandon all their nuclear weapons, but they are a little unclear as to when they plan to do that. And they are – have truly, throughout this process, been momentum killers. That is, every time you make some progress, they seem intent on slowing it down. So it’s sort of like, you know, a basketball game without a 24-second clock or any other way to keep the game moving. So that’s been tough.

I think for the North Koreans, you know, they are looking at a really difficult situation for them. You know, from the North Korean vantage point and the Six-Party Talks, they are not the biggest country there, they are not the most powerful country at the table. And so I think they sometimes make up for this by slowing things down. And I am concerned about the fact that we haven’t made more progress on it.

But I think the overall – I think we have a process in place. I think we have a lot of energy, and you can certainly sense that in the new team that we have. You can certainly sense that we have the people to continue to work this issue. And I tell you, no one’s going to work harder than the American delegation to try to finish this job.

MODERATOR: In the very back.

QUESTION: South Korean Yonhap News Agency. Secretary Clinton said this morning that Ambassador Sung Kim is heading the U.S. delegation to the Six-Party Talks. So that means Ambassador Bosworth – he intends to meet with higher-level North Korean officials than Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, when I was in Pyongyang, I met the foreign minister, I think, all three times that I went there. I met some other officials. I certainly would expect Ambassador Bosworth to be received, you know, at appropriately high levels, and that when you make a trip all the way out, you shouldn’t just be seeing a vice minister; you should have the opportunity to see other people. And I hope the North Koreans, when he does go at some date – you know, there’s been no determination he’s going, this week or next week, but at some point, obviously, he would be going to North Korea. And I would hope that the North Koreans would receive him appropriately and understand the need to enhance dialogue and make progress.

The concept of, you know, Sung Kim is he will be responsible, sort of, day to day, keeping in close contact with all the counterparts in the process. And certainly, you know, Ambassador Bosworth, who has an enormous amount of energy, will be out there in the region dealing with all the partners in the Six-Party process.

So from our point of view, I don’t think we have any problem with keeping the – keeping the momentum in terms of having direct contacts with all the relevant parties. And Sung Kim will be, on a daily basis, responsible for this as well.

MODERATOR: Okay. We have time for only two more questions, so one more in the back and one in the front.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MODERATOR: We really don’t have enough time.

QUESTION: Thank you. I’m Shanshan Wang with China Radio International. I’ve got two questions. The first one is Secretary Clinton said before the visit that the United States and China should develop a comprehensive dialogue instead of just focusing on economic issues. So how far has this visit achieved in expanding that comprehensive dialogue?

And the second question is Chinese leaders have been very active in diplomatic visits this month. The president, the vice president, and premier visited European, Asian, African, and Latin American countries. So as far as you see it, does it send a message as to what kind of changes or, say, trend in China’s diplomacy? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, certainly the Secretary spoke with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi about the dialogues. There was a good discussion about how to do this. I think Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will come to Washington soon to further that. And then, I think we’ll have our two presidents finally, when they meet at the London G-20 meeting will be able to say something further and to essentially announce that – how we’ll go forward on that.

We have considered these dialogues very important. As you know, we have something like 60 bilateral dialogues. It’s more than one per week, so in theory we’d have to do it on Thanksgiving week and Christmas and Chinese New Year’s to keep this thing going. And I think the idea was to, you know, make sure that, in addition to an economic dialogue, we have a very strong political and security dialogue. So I think there was a very strong commitment of both countries to do this.

As for China’s active diplomacy in Europe and elsewhere, we welcome China as an active – active diplomacy. We welcome the opportunity to work with our Chinese colleagues across a range of international issues and as well as issues that are of importance to the international community. We have said many times we think China has a lot to say in these areas and a lot to contribute. So we hope China would want to do that and work with us and see if we can make progress on some of these issues around the world.

MODERATOR: Okay, down in front.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We’ll do one more question. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: One more question.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yeah, she looked so disappointed and, you know. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: It better be a good question. Start thinking about it now, okay? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: She graduated from the Ewha University. (Laughter.)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, she’s from Ewha. Oh, that explains it.

QUESTION: I’m Hyung Du Choi with Munhawa, Korean newspaper. You have said the momentum – very momentum killer, kill the momentum to move on phase three negotiation. So do you think if new round of Six-Party Talks or new Administration – U.S. new Administration would pursue the step-by-step approach or rather than to more comprehensive approach, like such as, you know, including the normalization and human rights and missiles?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yeah, well, certainly we’ve been very interested in pursuing different issues. And I’ve always felt that we would – in a phase three, which we’ve always taken to be an abandonment phase, that’s when the North Koreans finally decide to give up the plutonium they’ve already separated and become – abandon their nuclear material and join the NPT. In that phase, we would anticipate a bilateral dialogue whose purpose would be aimed at normalization. Now, in the context of that normalization dialogue – with the understanding we don’t normalize until we have denuclearization; that is, we are not going to normalize with a nuclear North Korea. We’ve made that clear many times. But in the context of discussing steps toward normalization, we would also be discussing important issues such as human rights.

And I think it’s very important for the North Koreans to understand that human rights are – it’s not just some, you know, American weapon that we use to hit them over the head. It has to do with standards of behavior. And if North Korea desires to be a member of the international community in good standing, they need to understand that human rights is part of that. And so we would look forward to having that discussion, having some sort of dialogue, and maybe having some benchmarks for how, you know, we could make some progress on that.

So we do look to have a range of discussions with North Korea and develop a range of issues. So I don’t think the Six-Party process is not comprehensive because it’s step by step. I think the reason it’s step by step is that we can’t get the North Koreans to make one big leap now, and they prefer to make small steps in the same direction or toward the same goal. Obviously, those of us who have been engaged in this process would much prefer that they make one giant leap and we’d all be done tomorrow. But I think, realistically speaking, we’ve had to go on a step-by-step basis.

So let’s see how the Six-Party is able to proceed. We really would like to get going, get back at the table, kind of map out how we move forward, and prevent a situation where the North Koreans will try to have too many of these baby steps and not enough, sort of, you know, to have a sort of normal gait toward the ultimate goal. So let’s see what can be done.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: From Ewha University. (Laughter.) My daughter attended classes there, too.

QUESTION: Oh, Okay. Thank you, Secretary, for the chance to give you the last question. I have clarify – you have said that Ambassador Bosworth, who will be visiting – I mean, going to Asia next week --


QUESTION: Yeah, with Sung Kim. Is there any possibility that he might visit North Korea or have contact with North Korea? I know you have mentioned it, but I want to make it clear were there any chances that he might be contacting North Korean officials?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, you know, my problem is if I say yes, there’s a chance, you then say he’s planning to do that. (Laughter.) And so, you know then, if I say no, there’s no chance in the world, then you’d say no, he’ll never meet with the North Koreans. So you know, I’m not in a position to say that now – to say either of those things now, except to say that the immediate task for him is to go and talk to some of our partners, namely the Japanese, South Koreans, Chinese. And we’re looking forward, I think, as well, to meeting with the Russians. And we’ll see what can be done with respect to the dialogue with the North Koreans. But I don’t think any decisions have been made at this point on that, so I don’t want to say yes, he will, or no, he won’t. And besides that, I’m not his spokesman. You should talk to him directly.

QUESTION: Last following-up question about the nuclear missile. I mean, there has been --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Ewha University. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: About the missile launch, still there has been – there has been a representative from New York – North Korean diplomat who’s now in Atlanta. He has also – this morning, mentioned that North Korea is – it has intention to go through as they have scheduled with the missile – not the missile, but what they say the satellite launch. And Secretary Gates has also mentioned – has spoken that if there’s any kind of a launch – missile launch that U.S. is ready to intercept. If this – in case of the satellite, and if that – we hope that that kind of happening won’t happen, but if that happens, won’t that increase the crisis of the Six-Party Talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I don’t want to answer a hypothetical question on that, and I certainly don’t want to interpret the Secretary of Defense’s words for him. And I certainly don’t want to interpret the words of a North Korean official who’s – what is he doing today? He’s in Atlanta, Georgia or something. (Laughter.) Well, no, I’m not in a position to interpret their words, except that obviously we have been – we have really spoken, I think, very clearly about our views of this so-called satellite launch.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much.


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