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Diplomacy in Action

Remarks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Glyn Davies
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Tokyo, Japan
May 16, 2013


AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, thank you all very much for coming. I want to first of all apologize for being a little bit late. I’ve just come from a good meeting with Director General Sugiyama, where we talked about really every single facet of the North Korea issue. As always, I found it exceedingly productive and useful to talk to him. Let me say a quick word about what I’ll be up to in the course of tomorrow, because as you know, I’ve come from a visit to Seoul, to Beijing, where I had a chance to say something to the press. This is my last stop before I head back to Washington after a full day of meetings tomorrow. And it’s a long list, so let me just go through it quickly so you’ll understand what I’ll be doing over the course of tomorrow.

I will meet at the Secretariat Headquarters for the Abduction Issue with Secretary General Mitani, who is a good friend. I will then have a conversation with Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Isozaki, then meet with Chairman Nukaga of the Japan – ROK Parliamentary league, meet with Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanehara, then go to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Saiki, and then finally have a meeting with Chairman Kawai of the Diet. So that is what I will be up to tomorrow, a very full day, and then go back to Washington on Saturday. I don’t have a lot of time this evening, but I’m very happy to take maybe two or three questions, so over to you.

QUESTION: Ambassador, I think that you now have more information about the Advisor to the Prime Minister’s trip to North Korea. How do you understand the nature of the trip now and then can you comment on that?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I expected you would ask about that. Of course it did come up with Director General Sugiyama, and let me back up a little bit and make a couple of points about this. First, on the question of abductions, more broadly – as you know, and this is something that I have repeated and others at more senior levels, including Secretary of State Kerry and his recent visit of Tokyo have said, we take this issue in the United States very, very seriously. We stand firmly with the Japanese Government and the Japanese people, this is an issue that when we meet with North Korean officials at senior levels we consistently raise. And at really the human level, we feel this issue very deeply, you know that I very often am able to meet and look forward to meeting with the families of the abductees. We say to them every time what I have also said publicly, that this an issue that we will never, in the United States, forget and we will always stand beside Japan on this issue.

Point two, with North Korea we all have fundamental security interests in dealing with the regime. We have fundamental security issues at stake, a number of these issues are closely shared among all of us in the five parties, certainly among the three allies. There, of course, the issue of denuclearization is central and is paramount. That’s why it is important, and I want to underscore this, that we stay connected very closely, all of us stay knitted up on the issue of how we approach North Korea. It think it’s very important that, looking forward, we continue to coordinate very closely on this issue of dealing with North Korea, in particular on this fundamental issue that we all share of trying to find a way to sharpen the choices for North Korea so that it comes back to its commitments and obligations on denuclearization and actually begins by takings steps that demonstrate its seriousness of purpose. So I wanted to make these three points in answer to your question.

QUESTION: So I think your understanding is that this trip has something to do with abductee issues, and is this a good time for this kind of discussion?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, what I said yesterday in Beijing is that I wanted to come to Tokyo and talk to Japanese officials so that I could learn more about this particular effort. I have begun the process of learning a bit more about it. I will have all of these meetings that I have just outlined tomorrow, where perhaps I can get more insights about the issue. As I understand it, this mission that you are referring to is still underway, and I think we have some days to wait - all of us -- before we know if there are any results from this mission. And again, we will look to the Government of Japan to talk to us and to inform us about the results, but I want to put an accent on the importance of staying very close bilaterally, trilaterally among the allies and then among the five parties, and frankly, more broadly internationally, on the issue of North Korea. I think that’s very important.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up, so is it understandable that the Japanese government did it without any close consultation with the United States or the ROK?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Again, I want to look forward, and I’ve made that point, and I think it’s important that we work closely together, consult with each other. I don’t want to get into going back into recent days (regarding) how this came about, whether or not certain parties were told about. Everybody here knows, because I was speaking to the press in Seoul very recently, that when I was asked about it, it was for me news. I had not heard about it, so I think that answer that I gave speaks for itself in terms of the extent to which there had been any coordination ahead of time. I’m going to take one more question, if I can, and then I’m going to have to run off, and I hope you all understand that.

QUESTION: Ambassador, South Korea has said that the trip by Mr. Iijima is being unhelpful. What would you say?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I’m not going to address it in that way. What I’ve said in making the three points that I’ve said is what I think is important to underscore, and I think obviously we look forward to hearing from the Government of Japan more details about this. In coming days, I will have to leave Tokyo to go back to Washington on Saturday morning, I don’t know if I’ll have more details before I go. So, on this one, all I can really do is speculate, and I don’t want to get into speculating, that’s not helpful. I’m here to put the accent on the strength and solidarity of the bilateral relationship, and hope that in that spirit the United States and Japan can continue to work together very closely on this exceedingly important issue of North Korea, in all of its aspects going forward.

That’s really all I have for you today, again I’m very sorry I was late, I know all of you have other things to do, but I do look forward to coming back to Tokyo I hope at an early moment, and having a chance to talk to all of you again. Thank you very much.


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