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Diplomacy in Action

Afternoon Remarks to Press in Beijing

Glyn Davies
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Westin Chaoyang Hotel
Beijing, China
February 24, 2012


AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Thank you very much. It's good to see you. Let me tell you what I've been up to over the last couple of hours and where I'm headed, some of which I've already related to you, but I'll repeat it: This morning at the U.S. Embassy we met for about two and a half hours with the North Korean delegation led by First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan and his team. The talks were serious and substantive, and we ranged over, really, all the issues, so we found it very useful. What I have to do now is, number one, go on from here to consult with our close friends and allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan. Tomorrow morning I will fly off with my colleagues to Seoul, South Korea, to meet with Ambassador Lim Sung Nam and his colleagues, to report to them. Then on Sunday, I will go to Tokyo to meet with Director-General Sugiyama and others in the Japanese government.

Now, I am not here to announce any particular result from these talks, because what we need to do is take what we discussed back to Washington and evaluate it, and see where we are, and see where we can go from there. So, while I had hoped that at this stage I might be able to give you all sorts of details and go in great depth into what it was we discussed, I am not in a position to do that at this stage, and I'm sorry about that. I wish I could give you more so that you could write long stories, and file long reports. But diplomacy sometimes is a process that takes a while to work through. So, that's about it. Now I'm happy to take your questions and see if I can take a shot at them but, as I say, I'm probably not going to be in a position to provide much in the way of details, and I apologize in advance for that. So, please. Yes?

QUESTION: How much time do you need to evaluate?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, we'll see. I'll be back in Washington Monday afternoon, and I'll have a chance starting Tuesday to report to and consult with my colleagues in Washington. And we will weigh up the results of these talks, see where it leaves us, and see what sorts of next steps are called for at that stage.

QUESTION: Is it your feeling that any progress was made on the key issues, particularly on uranium enrichment?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I think we made a little bit of progress. I think what we have to do is evaluate it, and look at what it was the North Koreans had to say to us, and then consult with our allies and partners in the Six-Party process. Now I already began that. I had a good lunch and meeting with Wu Dawei of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who is the chairman of the Six-Party Talks and has been for many years. I gave him a sense of where we stand, reported to him, and he gave me his thoughts on behalf of the People's Republic of China. That will be very useful. But then the next step is to talk to the allies, go back to Washington, weigh it all up, and see where we go from there. There's a question here.

QUESTION: Did the North Koreans agree to do anything on uranium enrichment?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: What I don’t want to get into is the substance of the discussions. Of course we talked about all of the issues with which you are very familiar, that relate to denuclearization, that relate to the uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon that that North Koreans revealed to the world in 2010. We talked about nonproliferation, we talked about humanitarian issues, we talked about human rights. I, of course, raised the issue of the abductees, from the stand point of the concerns that are so important to the Japanese and quite frankly to all of us, and importantly, I talked about the importance of North Korea working hard to try to improve its relations with its neighbors, in particular on the Peninsula, in terms of better North-South relations and more frequent contacts between the DPRK and the ROK. So, all of those subjects that you know very well, we went over in some depth. That was one advantage of having three lengthy sessions with the DPRK, including a dinner last night. We could cover a lot of ground, so I was able to do all of that.

QUESTION: Could you elaborate a little more about the progress that you mentioned, is it related to denuclearization or food aid?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I am not going to get into the specifics of any progress that we’ve made. The mere fact and I said this when I first came here that relatively soon after the political change in North Korea, the DPRK was willing to sit down with us and go over all of these issues in some depth, I think, in and of itself, is positive and demonstrates a degree of progress, and so that was for us quite useful. It gave us a chance to explain to them in some depth and some detail our position on all of these questions, to remind them of our positions on, in particular, denuclearization, which from our standpoint is job number one and I think there is a consensus on that among the other members of the six party process. All of that was for us quite useful and we took advantage of the many hours that we spent with the DPRK officials to explain all of that to them. And so I think that this third exploratory set of talks that we had with them was of some value, and that’s the progress I am talking about, that we were able to have this kind of a very in depth, wide ranging exchange.

QUESTION: Do you think there was a breakthrough to the six party talks?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Oh my goodness, no. I think the word breakthrough goes way too far, folks. I wouldn’t want anyone using the word breakthrough.

QUESTION: Did you agree on meeting further with them?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: There are no agreements about any further meetings with the North Koreans. I suspect that we will, as we traditionally do, remain in contact with the DPRK through the New York channel That has been our method of communication with them regularly, and we will keep that up when we get back to Washington.

QUESTION: What is the biggest gap between the two parties?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well again, that would take me into a little too much substance at this stage and while, as a former spokesman, I would love to sit here and give you chapter and verse on our discussions with the DPRK, right now it’s not quite frankly in our interest to do that, because what we have to do is take back to Washington what we heard and weigh it up, evaluate it, analyze it, and decide what sort of steps should come next, and an important part of that process is talking to our partner nations in the Six-Party process.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the progress (inaudible)?

QUESTION: (inaudible) -- ….views of the delegation?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: No, I don’t think so. I wouldn’t point to any dramatic differences in how they presented their views, in how they dealt with the points that we made. And remember that this is the veteran first vice foreign minister mister Kim Kye Gwan, he’s been doing this for many years.

He’s one of the veterans of the Six Party process and many of the officials on his side had been involved previously in these talks – so, I didn’t have sitting across the table from me a new cast or a new set of officials. They’re very much the same men and women we have been dealing with in the past. No, I can’t say there was any dramatic difference in the conversation or how they presented their views at all.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the progress you made this round and are you optimistic about the prospect of (inaudible)?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I don’t do optimism or pessimism. I really don’t think that that’s useful. What I think is important will be when and if we get their concrete results. I think from the standpoint of the last couple of days here in Beijing, we’ve been able to illuminate the issues a bit better, gain a better understanding of their point of view, their rationale, their position, on all of the issues that I’ve described.

And I think that that’s of value and we will take that back and see what we can do with it.

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Let me take one more quick question, let me take one more quick question.

QUESTION: Thank you. The people you were negotiating with weren’t new to this process, however they were answering to a new leadership. What can you say about what you were able to glean about North Korea under the new leadership?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, now you’re getting into the issues, that, if you’ll permit me, let me first report to my authorities and we’ll see if in the fullness of time we can say a bit more about that. I would come back to what I said earlier, that there was nothing stylistically or substantively dramatically different in terms of how the North Koreans were presenting their positions. And I’m not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing. That’s simply, that was my impression from having dealt with them.

Listen, I want to thank you all very much, for sticking around. I appreciate it. Some of you I know I will see in Seoul, and perhaps even in Tokyo, and I look forward to that. And I know that over the weeks and months, and years, perhaps to come, I’ll have a chance to keep dealing with you and working with you. So thanks very much for that.

QUESTION: Just to confirm, because you said there was no dramatic change in the North Korean view, then how could you say that you could have the chance for better understanding?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, for diplomacy to succeed and move forward, sometime you don’t need drama. That’s just the nature of diplomacy. Sometimes what you need is step by step progress. We’ll see if we’ll be in a position in coming days, weeks, and months to be able to report to you any progress. I’m simply not in a position today to give you any detail or report to you any dramatic change or progress. And that sometimes is the nature of diplomacy. It’s an incremental process. And this is just one example of that. So, I know this won’t stop the presses, I’m not going to make page one for anybody, but that’s just the nature of the beast.

In any event, I really appreciate it, and I look forward to working with you all in the coming days and weeks, and we’ll see where we are a little bit later on. Thanks again very much, appreciate it.

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