AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Hello everybody, thank you very much for coming tonight, I appreciate it.
I arrived this morning in Beijing, having come from Seoul, South Korea where I had a couple of things to say yesterday that I think have been reported. Let me just tell you a little bit about my day today and my plans going forward.
As I said, I got here this morning, I had discussions in the course of the day with several Chinese officials -- with, of course, Ambassador Wu Dawei, my counterpart, with Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, and with Vice Minister Liu Jieyi at the International Department.
My conversations were excellent, very useful, and this, of course, is a continuation of a set of conversations that we have been having with the Chinese authorities for some time, but most particularly in the case of my relationship and conversation with Ambassador Wu Dawei. This follows his visit to Washington just a matter of weeks ago.
Tomorrow, I head off to Tokyo and I look forward to that – to conversations with my good friend and colleague Shinsuke Sugiyama, Director General at the Foreign Ministry.
So with that, very happy to take any questions you've got. I have to run off in a minute so let me just take a couple of questions.
QUESTION: Ambassador, what is your understanding of Japan’s Prime Ministers’ advisor’s trip to Pyongyang, and are you concerned that this might come at odds with your efforts to…
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, I have had occasion in the course of today to have a conversation with a senior Japanese official, so I’ve been given a little bit of information about that. But for the most part, I will reserve any comment about that until I’ve had a chance to go to Tokyo, talk to officials there, and then perhaps it will make sense for me to say a word or two about it. So right now, given the deficit of information that I’m dealing with, I really don’t think it makes any sense to comment. Thank you.
QUESTION: Ambassador, did you ask for more information about Bank of China’s closure of North Korean account? Were you able to confirm that they actually did it, and how do you evaluate the impact it will have on the North Korean regime?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well I’ve spoken about the Bank of China issue before, so that’s on the record. We talked really about all aspects of the North Korean issue, to include touching on the question of sanctions. But as I’ve already said on the Bank of China, I think it’s a significant step that has been taken by the bank. I don’t believe this was at the direction necessarily of the Chinese government. I think this was a decision made by the bankers at the Bank of China, so it’s not a topic that it would be fruitful, I think, for me to get into in depth with the Chinese government.
But I do think nonetheless, as I’ve said, that it is a significant development, and I think it does help sharpen the choices that Pyongyang faces as it goes forward.
QUESTION: Ambassador, follow up on that. Ambassador, so in today’s talk with the Chinese officials, do you think you will ever find what you said, a real shift, in how they cooperate with North Korea and also are you able to find some other ways where you can send, with China, to North Korea, unified signals to North Korea?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, I don’t think it is useful for me to try to attach any sort of label to where Chinese thinking is at the moment. China acts on its own interests. We respect Chinese decisions that relate to North Korea. Obviously we are seeking, with the Chinese, to achieve as great a level of cooperation and communication on the North Korea issue. What I said before, I’ll repeat: that it is very much the case that both China and the United States share the view that denuclearization of the peninsula is absolutely essential if we are to move forward in any diplomatic process with North Korea. So we talked a great deal about what is happening now in North Korea, how we evaluate it, and how we might move forward diplomatically with North Korea. But I don’t have any specific ideas to report to you today. This fits in the frame of a long, strategic conversation that we’re having with the Chinese.
I think I’ve taken questions from three Japanese journalists…are there others? Yes, ma’am.
QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the way China is enforcing sanctions on North Korea?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, I think this is all a work in progress. The Chinese have said to us that they will faithfully implement UN Security Council sanctions and are doing so. And as I’ve said before, we take them at their word. I think China is, in its own fashion, seeking to convey messages to Pyongyang, so that they understand the importance that China attaches to denuclearization, but beyond that, I don’t want to comment because I don’t work for the Chinese government, don’t represent them, and I’d like them to speak for themselves. Are there other questions?
QUESTION: Ambassador, has China imposed any of these sanctions…you’re taking them at their word, but have you seen any evidence to speak of?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, there have been a series of Security Council resolutions -- I think we’re now up to about four, on North Korea, over recent years -- and I think that there is a great deal of evidence that the Chinese are moving to implement the sanctions. This is quite apart from the issue of unilateral sanctions. Of course the United States has implemented a succession of unilateral sanctions as well. But I don’t think it’s useful for me to get into characterizing the extent to which we judge China having implemented sanctions. The point is they have indicated they intend to continue implementing sanctions and we do take them at their word.