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Remarks at Narita Airport


Remarks
Glyn Davies
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Tokyo, Japan
May 18, 2013

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AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Thanks for coming. Let me say a few things at the beginning, then I’m happy to take a few questions from you. What I would like to do is to report to you on my visit to Tokyo. It was a quick visit, but very productive. I had yesterday seven meetings with various officials. At the Abductions Ministry you know I met with Secretary General Mitani, Chairman Nukaga. I met Chairman Kawai at the Diet, and at the Kantei I had some useful meetings with Special Advisor Isozaki and Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanehara. At the Foreign Ministry, Deputy Minister Saiki made time to see me in his busy schedule, which I very much appreciate. And of course the centerpiece of my visit was my meeting with Director General Sugiyama, to follow up my late Thursday meeting that I had with him at the Foreign Ministry. I thank him very much for his hospitality. I thank all of the officials in Tokyo for their insights and their assurances. I found these meetings to be both useful and timely.

Now, in terms of the context of my visit and of these discussions, let me say this: We in the United States, and indeed I believe many who follow North Korea, expected sooner or later that North Korea would shift from the threats and belligerency of recent months, in some respects an almost unprecedented succession of unacceptable, dangerous acts and pronouncements with which you are all familiar. The December missile test, the February nuclear test, all of the threats not just to the United States, but also to the Republic of Korea, Japan, and China - you know as well as I the long list of recent provocations. We knew that North Korea would eventually shift their strategy to that of seeking engagement, in an effort to split us and to exploit any difference in our respective national positions.

What I would like to report to you about my meetings here is that they helped increase my confidence that the Government of Japan is fully aware of the challenges and pitfalls of engaging North Korea. I received assurances about the centrality of denuclearization to our collective efforts to engage North Korea on the right terms, in other words, to convince North Korea that it has no choice but to live up to its long-standing commitments and obligations to take steps to abandon nuclear weapons and indeed, to abandon its pursuit of missile technologies.

And let me say a word as I always do about the issue of abductions. The United States stands squarely with the families of the abductees and the people of Japan on this issue. It must be addressed by North Korea. We will continue to raise [this issue] at every opportunity with senior North Koreans. There can be no comprehensive resolution to all of the issues relating to North Korea unless the abductions are satisfactorily addressed. And we will indeed, as I have said many times before, never forget the suffering of the families. Let me again extend my thanks to counterparts in the Government of Japan for receiving me so well, and for such useful and timely meetings. And with that I’m happy to take a couple of questions.

QUESTION: Ambassador, are you saying that this visit by Mr. Iijima to Pyongyang is an effort by the North Koreans to split up your coalition, and what assurances did you get from the Japanese government that this won’t be the case?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, what I don’t want to do is get into commenting directly on this issue of the Iijima visit. And that is because, like the rest of you, I am suffering from a deficit of information. I simply don’t know much at all about the visit, I’ve seen the reporting from North Korea but my understanding is that Mr. Iijima has only just come back from Pyongyang and from Beijing and is now reporting to Japanese authorities. So we look forward to getting a report on what it was he discussed, and I think what we’ll do is we’ll take it from there.

QUESTION: I think you learned more about Mr. Iijima’s visit to North Korea, also in yesterday’s meetings with several Japanese officials. Now how do you understand the reason why Japan has sent Iijima to North Korea, and did you express some concerns to Japanese officials about Iijima’s trip, because it might have a negative impact on your effort to apply pressure on North Korea.

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I understand the question, and it’s a very legitimate question. But I would suggest that at this stage, this is not so much a question for me. I think that’s a question that you may put to your own authorities. What I do not want to do is get into the business of betraying the confidences that were extended to me by these gentlemen that I met with yesterday. If I were to betray those confidences, then I would be acting like North Korea, and I don’t want to do that.

QUESTION: What kind of consultations will you be having with the Japanese moving forward?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I think we’ll continue to have consultations with the Japanese, both through their Embassy in Washington and through our Embassy here, and also at the level of senior officials between capitals. One of the undertakings that I received from my meetings with Japanese officials is that of course they would convey to us in detail information about the Iijima trip. So we expect that it will happen, and I very much look forward to that. How about one more quick question?

QUESTION: What conditions do you think are necessary for the Japanese Government in trying to move this abduction issue forward? Do you expect to see some action from the North Koreans?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: It would be quite improper for me as an American diplomat to try and interpose myself into this issue from the standpoint of the Japanese Government. The Japanese government, we respect them, we have excellent relations with Japan, a close ally and friend, so we’ll see going forward what might have developed from this visit. But I am not going to suggest strategies and tactics other than simply to say what I have already said, that we in the United States believe that this issue of denuclearization, because it is the foundation issue, the corner issue of the Six-Party Process, is one that we must all continue to work on. Which does not mean that all of the other issues are not also exceedingly important.

There can’t be a comprehensive solution to the North Korea issue, all of these issues, until we find a way collectively to convince North Korea that it has no choice but to live up to its obligations and commitments. You’ve all heard me speak to that many, many times. I want to thank you very much for coming to the airport, I’m sorry it’s such a long trip for you to come out here. I’ve enjoyed my visit to Tokyo, the weather’s been beautiful, and I look forward very much to coming back some point in the near future. Thank you very much.

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