Cablegate: Imo Secgen Reports On His Trip to the Korean Peninsular

Published: Wed 15 Jun 2005 10:10 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LONDON 004981
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/15/2015
Ref: london 4212
Classified By: ESTOff Trevor Evans for reasons 1.4 (d) and (e):
1. (C) On June 10, Efthimios Mitropoulos, Secretary General
of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) briefed
ESTOff on his trip the previous week to the Korean Peninsula.
Even before his arrival, the North had indicated that his
offer of the IMO's good offices to increase North-South
maritime cooperation was appreciated, but that the "time was
not right." Instead, much of what he heard in the North
involved current perspectives on the 6-party talks and North
Korea's relationship with the U.S. Mitropoulos said he had
met with the North Korean Ambassador in London earlier in the
day, and gave EstOff his confidential notes from that meeting
(see para 6). End Summary.
In seoul - messages for the north
2. (C) On June 10, Efthimios Mitropoulos, Secretary General
of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) briefed
ESTOff on his trip the previous week to the Korean Peninsula.
Mitropoulos spent little time describing his itinerary in
South Korea, only to say that in meetings with the President
and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, he was asked to
encourage the North to increased cooperation in maritime
affairs and to express the South's concern for the treatment
of North Korean ships calling at Japanese ports. In addition,
the Vice Minister for the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and
Fisheries asked Mitropoulos to convey a message of friendship
to the North and suggesting joint fishery activities or
projects in the context of the bilateral maritime agreement.
Mitropoulos noted, however, that even prior to his departure
from London, the North Korean Ambassador in London had
conveyed IMO's offer to Pyongyang. Pyongyang responded that
it appreciated IMO's offer, but in the context of the
Sunshine policy, "the time was not right" to pursue the IMO's
proposed areas of cooperation. (Per reftel, Mitropoulos
proposed that the IMO assist in the following areas: 1)
cooperation on search and rescue, 2) joint responsibilities
for responding to major pollution incidents, 3) technical
cooperation including training of maritime personnel, and 4)
cooperation on maritime traffic between the two countries.)
3. (C) The ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs also thanked IMO
for offering its good offices to increase cooperation with
the North. He then asked Mitropoulos to tell the North that
"the message from the South is to come back to the six-party
talks." Once the North participates, he said, and the
nuclear program is dismantled and verified by the
International Energy Administration (IEA), food, energy, and
security will be guaranteed and we will activate the maritime
agreement. The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs added that
were these conditions met, "funds would be made available to
effect these programs." The Vice Foreign Minister added that
the South feels it is under pressure from the U.S. He said,
the U.S. is trying to stop the ROK from doing anything until
the North agrees to return to the talks. The ROK President,
he said, will find himself in a difficult position during his
meeting with President Bush in Washington. For this reason,
it would be nice if Mitropoulos could tell the North that the
ROK would appreciate the North sending a positive signal that
the President of ROK could take with him on his visit to
In pyongyang - messages for the u.s.
4. (C) Flying to the North via Beijing, Mitropoulos met wit
the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and the "President of
the Presidium" who told him that attempts to improve
relations with the South had been repeatedly frustrated by
"outside forces" (i.e., the U.S.). He said the North's
attempts to pursue a policy of "consultation, cooperation,
and reconciliation" had been frustrated by the U.S. and its
stand on nuclear issues. As an example, he asserted that the
South had pledged to send the North 500K tons of fertilizer,
but ended up only sending 200K tons due the U.S.
intervention. The North, he said, wants to phase out its
nuclear program, but through dialogue, since the U.S. is
directly threatening the North with nuclear weapons. xxxxx
The U.S. should show sincerity, he said, by entering
into bilateral talks with the North. Vice President Cheney's
remarks were slanderous, he added, and make it clear and the
U.S. has no interest in resolving the talks peacefully. "If
you meet our American friends, he said, "please pass this
message to them - that the U.S. should come with sincerity
and honest minds to resolve this issue." He stated, the
current U.S. proposal that we dismantle or nuclear program,
after which they will give assurances is not fair - the two
gestures should occur simultaneously "in trust." Mitropoulos
countered that he understood the U.S. position somewhat
differently. Further, he said that if the North does not
trust the U.S., it seemed to him that it would be better off
working within the six party framework, rather than in a
bilateral discussion. That way if any party did not live up
to its end of the bargain, all of the North's neighbors would
be at the table, not just the U.S.
5. (C) Mitropoulos said he had few expectations for the
North, but was surprised further by what he found, beginning
with the flight from Beijing on a dilapidated Russia-made
passenger jet. He the flight was about 80% full, with over
half the passengers Iranian. He noted, "How do they expect
the West to believe their nuclear program is not a threat
when flights to the country are full of Iranians?" He was
housed in a huge eight bedroom guesthouse with no other
guests, and enjoyed a modern TV which included 114 channel,
only one of which worked - the government's channel. When he
got off the plane, he was greeted by a party including
officials bearing flowers that he "might want to dedicate" to
the Great Leader. Feeling he had no choice without creating
an incident upon arrival, Mitropoulos laid a wreath at a
statue of Kim Il Sung while TV cameras whirred. He was then
asked if he had brought any gifts for the Great Leader, even
though his staff had made it clear that he would not be
bringing gifts on the trip. When he visited port facilities,
he felt that there had been no special preparation for his
visit, and the Port Security Manager was unavailable to
escort him on the tour of the Port's security system.
6. (c) notes from the secgen's june 10 meeting with north
korean ambassador in london (ri yong ho)
--------------------------------------------- ----------------
begin text:
Memo for the file on the visit of the Ambassador of the
Democratic Republic of Korea on 10 June 2005 (on SG's return
from his mission to DPRK)
(Covers the DPRK Ambassador's statement to SG's opening
In his response, the Ambassador of DPRK said that they feel
that bilateral talks with the Unites States would be better
able to establish that the United States are serious and wish
to reach an outcome. They are not bothered what format is
used for the actual agreement - bilateral or six-party
agreement - but bilateral talks are necessary to establish
the seriousness of intention. Russia and China do not want
to pin down what format is used. I noted any discussion is
better than none, and that a note of point regarding the
6-party agreement is it gives more guarantee.
Confidence is not there for a bilateral agreement. The point
is that DPRK does not believe the US is really prepared to
seriously address the issue and reach a conclusion. The US
is trying to buy time; and is not prepared to be flexible on
the issue.
Also he noted that there is pressure within the US
Administration regarding Iraq and France. Therefore, The US
are taking a tough stand on DPRK. Within the Administration
itself they do not seem to be saying the same things.
Later, when passing on the reaction of his capital to the
SG's meetings with Government officials during his visit, the
Ambassador of DPRK said that they were grateful that SG had
shown interest in the affairs and willingness to help with
problems in the peninsula exceeding his mandate as IMO SG.
That was strongly appreciated. They were delighted to hear
that the SG would bring about technical co-operation for
better maritime development in DPRK; and emphasized that SG
of IMO, an important agency of the UN system, has sympathetic
ideas on the concerns of the Korean peninsula and its status
as a nuclear-free region.
The messages brought by the SG from RoK were duly noted and
there is some discussion and initial reaction as far as
co-operation between North and South is concerned. Some
people in the DPRK Government are interested in co-operation
with the South, in particular on maritime affairs although
others believe these are not the most important ones, placing
emphasis particularly on military issues. They hold the view
that co-operation in the maritime field is good and they are
willing to help whenever incidents involving RoK ships within
their jurisdiction so require. But entering into a binding
agreement with RoK on search and rescue (SAR) is a very
serious issue as it means that the military will be bound to
such an agreement and, because of the particular situation
with PSI, the military is not prepared to be bound by legal
agreements, so it will take some time for consideration.
For other international conventions and treaties on maritime
affairs, there are only technical problems not political, so
it will only depend on preparations which they are willing to
Re: the 6-party talks, there are some new developments since
SG's visit. Their Government has indicated it is willing to
go back to the table once there is something from the US side
for face-saving, because they want the US to withdraw
their insulting comments and particularly the statements
about DPRK as an "outpost of tyranny" made by Secretary of
State Condoleeza Rice. Once US indicate that these
statements are withdrawn or that they will stop, the DPRK
will return to the table for 6-party talks. They are open
for any form of agreement. They have never been against the
6-party talks. The 6-party talks are better at the end stage
but at the initial stage bilateral talks are better for
efficiency; or, possibly, the bilateral talks and 6-party
talks could go hand-in-hand with the bilateral talks taking
part continuously with updates to the 6 parties every 3
months. Once no more insulting comments are forthcoming from
the US, things can move ahead. He believes this position has
been passed from Pyongyang to the RoK side - today or
He assured the SG that he would forward the SG's comments
right away to Pyongyang. He also felt that using the sea as
a bridge was a good idea, as the SG had suggested. So far,
the sea has been a source of clashes for so many people.
SG emphasized the importance of security in the peninsula and
how crucial it was to ensure that nothing goes wrong causing
the loss of innocent lives.
End of text.
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