Evening Press Stand-Up at Westin Chaoyang Hotel
Special Representative for North Korea Policy
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Thank you all very much for coming out tonight and to allow me to say just a couple of words to you. It is delightful to be back in Beijing for the first time since I was here in February. I come to Beijing from Seoul, South Korea, where we held trilateral discussions with the ROK and Japan about the situation in North Korea, and here in Beijing, so far I’ve had discussions with two officials. I had a meeting with Madame Fu Ying, Vice Minister, and I spent an hour meeting at the Foreign Ministry with my opposite number, Ambassador Wu Dawei, Special Representative, and then he very kindly hosted a dinner for us tonight. We come here with a group from Washington, D.C. First of all, of course, Mr. Ford Hart, the Special Envoy. Also, Syd Seiler, from the White House who is the Director for Korean Affairs, and our discussions with the Chinese I think were frank, and very wide-ranging and very useful. We talked about all aspects, really, of the situation on the Korean Peninsula. We shared our concerns about recent events. I think it’s fair to say that we are both interested in trying to find a way forward, if that’s possible, but in light of recent events I don’t have anything really to announce to you on that. One additional issue that I did raise that I thought I would mention specifically is that of North Korean refugees in China. I raised that issue with the Vice Foreign Minister and Mr. Wu Dawei, so we had a little bit of a discussion of that.
Now tomorrow, I will have an opportunity to meet with Mr. Liu Jieyi, of the International Department of the Central Committee, and I will have an opportunity to catch up with Ambassador Locke, and talk to Gary Locke about his perspective on the local situation. Other than that, I am very open to any questions you might have. Over to you.
QUESTION: North Korea said today a few hours ago that it will bolster its nuclear deterrent as long as the U.S. continues what it views to be its hostile policies towards it. How do you respond to that?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, I’m at a bit of loss to imagine what they’re referring to when they talk about hostile policies. I haven’t really had a chance to study that North Korean statement, I think it was put out by KCNA. I guess I would sum it up by saying it sounds to me like kind of more of the same and I don’t know that it really adds or detracts from what we already know about the North Korean point of view about what’s happening at the moment, so I guess the bottom line is I don’t have a particular reaction to it.
Other questions? You look like you have a question.
QUESTION: You and Mr. Wu Dawei, [inaudible] talk about that North Korean statement at dinner?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: You know, it’s interesting, it came up very briefly at the very end of the dinner. One member of the delegation happened to check a blackberry and noticed that that statement had just come across on the wires, so we simply had a chance to inform the Chinese that that statement had just been made, but we really didn’t have a chance to analyze or discuss it. It was really only at the very end of the evening that we talked about it.
So we’ll see, we’ll see if it’s really followed up by any more statements by North Korea. I don’t have a particular analysis, I need to study it to see to what it had to say, but I don’t think it really adds or detracts much from what we know about the North Korean attitude at the moment.
Other questions? Anybody else? Everyone’s anxious to get home, I bet…
QUESTION: Did you and China discuss a potential visit to China by Kim Jong-un?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Only in the context of my asking what current plans might be and I don’t want to get into the business of reporting what the Chinese side had to say. I’m certainly -- if there were to be a visit, I would not be the one announcing it to you, that’s a question you need to put to the Chinese. But only in a very general sense as we talked about all aspects of the issue and talked about what next steps might be. So it came up , but I don’t have anything to report to you on the conversation, no big news to report on that, and again, you should talk to, obviously, the government of the PRC about whether or not there is to be a visit at some point in the future. Thanks very much.
QUESTION: Have you discussed about sanctions with the Government of China? Do you want the Government of China to join…
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Yes. Of course. Sanctions was an issue that was raised in both of the meetings and I think you are quite familiar with our position. I think what’s important to note is that both China and the United States really have the same fundamental interests when it comes to the peninsula and to North Korea and it is peace, stability, and the pursuit of denuclearization, so we agree on those fundamentals and that’s what’s important. It’s in that context that we talked a little bit about how to strengthen the international approach at the level of the United Nations in New York. Sure, obviously I raised the issue of sanctions and the importance of reinforcing them and taking them seriously and of staying in very close touch between our governments as we work in the context of the UN Security Council to follow through on the sanctions that have been enacted by the Security Council, so in that respect we did discuss it, yes.
Anybody else? Any other topics?
QUESTION: What about the nutrition aid? Will America change its status towards nutrition aid?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to say that we have a joint stance on that, but I obviously talked about the fact that the United States would like to get to a place where we could once again contemplate providing nutritional assistance to North Korea. I mean, I think as you all know the United States has been historically very generous, when it comes to the provision of nutritional assistance. Since the mid-1990s we have provided over 2.2 million metric tons of food, valued at over $850 million to the people of North Korea. And should the opportunity present itself, if we can reach a stage where we can once again have faith in the North Koreans’ ability to abide by its undertakings and its promises, we would like very much to get back to the provision of nutritional assistance.
Sadly, that is not the case right now, in the wake of their decision, in March, to announce that they would launch a Taepo-dong missile. They described it as a satellite launch, and then against the express wishes of the United States, the PRC, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and many, many members of the international community, obviously, North Korea went ahead on April 13 and launched that missile. And that was a miscalculation on their part. They missed an opportunity to demonstrate their seriousness of purpose and really getting back to negotiations with us, and ultimately with the six parties.
So what we’re looking for now from North Korea is that they will now begin to take actions to demonstrate that they are serious about fulfilling their promises, their undertakings, in particular the promises that they made in the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. So that’s really our position on nutritional assistance. Again nothing to report to you or to announce to you that is likely to happen in the near future on that front.
Other questions? Other questions anybody?
QUESTION: What kind of role China can make, China play at this moment?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: China is a very key country in this process and we’ve said this many times before. I’ll repeat it here today. Because of China’s history with North Korea, because of their economic ties, because of China’s political ties with North Korea, they really play a unique role in addressing the issues that are presented by North Korea. And it’s in recognition of that, that I came here today, with Mr. Ford and Mr. Seiler, to talk to the Chinese, to try to get their ideas about the way forward. China is a vital, indispensable player on Six-Party issues and on North Korea. And we are very interested in hearing their ideas for how we can go forward from here. So that’s why I came today to Beijing. It’s been a great pleasure to come and talk to Chinese authorities. Our conversations are always enlightening; they’re interesting, frank, and direct. We don’t agree on every aspect of North Korean policy. That’s never been the case. That’s not the case today. But I think by coming here what we can seek to do, the United States, is try to ensure that at the very least, we have a good appreciation for each other’s positions and we’re able to exchange ideas and views about how we might go forward from here.
I don’t want to keep everybody here tonight. It is a spectacular evening out there, and I recommend everyone go out and enjoy it. But I see you have your hand up. One more question.
QUESTION: Has there been any specific change from the Chinese side in this conversation that you have kept today? Has there been any change?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I think first and foremost I want to keep the conversations between the United States and the PRC confidential. So I won’t get into talking about the positions that they expressed. I would say that this is a continuation of a conversation that dates back quite a while with the PRC. And as I say it was valuable. It was useful. It was enlightening. But I didn’t come here in the context of any pending negotiation or any imminent breakthroughs. I think you all know that. This is just regular, garden-variety diplomacy that we’re engaged in here, exchanging views. That really was the tenor, the nature, of my trip and our conversation with the Chinese. And through you, I would like to thank them very much for hosting us today and tomorrow in Beijing. I look forward to coming back to Beijing. Especially if the weather is as spectacular as it is today. So thank you all very much. I really appreciate it. Sorry I don’t have huge news for you. But that’s the nature of the business.
QUESTION: Can you repeat who you are meeting with on your schedule?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: The schedule has me meeting with Mr. Liu Jieyi. The number two of the international department of the Central Committee. Number one, and number two, I will have a chance to talk to my good friend Ambassador Gary Locke. And those are the two main things that are happening. Then I get on a plane and then I go to Tokyo, because this is a three-part trip. Seoul first, here, Beijing is kind of the meat in the sandwich, and then I’m off to Tokyo to talk to the Japanese government at various levels about issues that Japan is particularly concerned about. So that’s my schedule. That’s all I’ve got for you today. I look forward to seeing all of you next time that I’m here in Beijing, or those of you who are travelling with me, I look forward to seeing you later.
Thank you very much. Have a good night. Thanks, bye-bye.