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NEWS | Jan. 29, 2015

Trilateral Meeting on North Korea: Remarks at Iikura House, Tokyo

By Sung Kim Special Representative for North Korea Policy

AMBASSADOR KIM: Good afternoon. It’s great to be back in Japan. Let me first express again our deepest condolences to Mr. Yukawa’s family and the people of Japan. We will continue to stand by our friends in Japan and support them in this very difficult period. And we of course continue to pray for Mr. Goto’s immediate release.

I want to thank Director General Ihara for organizing this trilateral meeting. It was very productive, as I’m sure you heard from Director General Ihara and Ambassador Hwang. It was a very timely opportunity to exchange views regarding recent developments with regard to North Korea. Not surprisingly, we stand united. The three countries are united in our common pursuit of the denuclearization of North Korea. We will continue our closest possible coordination going forward.

We agreed that it is important for us to continue to enforce our sanctions in light of North Korea’s continued violation of international obligations and commitments. At the same time, we will energetically look for opportunities to return to credible negotiations towards denuclearization. In this regard, North Korea needs to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization in a concrete manner before we can resume any serious negotiations. Thank you.

QUESTION: Ambassador, you are always talking about dialogue with the D.P.R.K. Today, did you discuss this issue? And have you reached an agreement about how you are going to resume the talks for the United States and DPRK or other countries?

AMBASSADOR KIM: Well, we discussed various possibilities for engaging the North Koreans, including bilateral dialogue. And it’s not just U.S.-North Korea bilateral dialogue, but Japan’s ongoing efforts with the North Koreans regarding the abductee issue, about which we express very strong support. And of course South Korea’s efforts to initiate North-South dialogue. So I think there are various opportunities out there. What’s important is whether the North Koreans are ready to engage in serious and substantive dialogue on denuclearization. That is what all of us are looking for.

QUESTION: Ambassador, you just mentioned the implementation of sanctions, and the U.S. government announced its unilateral sanctions against North Korea just after the cyber attack on Sony Pictures. Will you expect Japan and South Korea to take similar sanctions against North Korea?

AMBASSADOR KIM: Well, we continue to coordinate very closely on sanctions enforcement for Security Council resolution sanctions, as well as our unilateral sanctions. Japan and Korea already have a robust set of sanctions against North Korea in place. I think going forward, as we build on our efforts with regard to the new Executive Order signed by the President earlier this month, we will continue our close cooperation and coordination with our partners, including Japan and Korea.

QUESTION: Ambassador, is there any possibility that you will in the near future visit the DPRK?

AMBASSADOR KIM: I can tell you that I have no plans to visit North Korea on this trip.

QUESTION: Is there any possibility?

AMBASSADOR KIM: Well, I don’t want to hypothetically dismiss all possibilities, but it’s really not a question of whether we are willing to visit Pyongyang or not. It’s a question of whether the North Koreans are ready for a serious dialogue focused on denuclearization. And we just haven’t seen that sign yet.

QUESTION: Ambassador, what do you think of the role of China in terms of restarting the Six-Party discussions?

AMBASSADOR KIM: We continue to believe that China has a very important role to play. They are the chair of the Six-Party Talks. They have strong historical ties with North Korea, and we do expect China will exercise its leadership and use its leverage on North Korea to persuade North Korea back to the path of denuclearization.

QUESTION: You just said that you want to see North Korea withdraw their nuclear reactors, and then the Six-Party Talks will resume. What kind of action do you want North Korea to take? They start to withdraw the nuclear reactor, or something, or you just have an agreement, and then the Six-Party Talks will resume?

AMBASSADOR KIM: I don’t want to get into too much detail here, but I think there’s very strong consensus among not just the three parties – the U.S., Japan, and Korea – but among the five parties including China and Russia, that North Korea needs to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization in a concrete manner before we can resume any serious negotiations. I think that would give us a much better chance to actually make lasting progress in denuclearization.

QUESTION: But how can you make sure that they won’t start it again, because it’s happened?

AMBASSADOR KIM: I’m very well aware of the difficult past on this issue, and this is why we’re coordinating closely and moving very deliberately. We’re not rushing back into negotiations. We want to make sure there is adequate preparation and there is adequate demonstration of commitment by all parties – especially North Korea – to denuclearization, so that if and when we resume negotiations and the Six-Party Talks, we have a much better chance of making some real progress.

Thank you.

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