State Dept. Daily Press Briefing October 31, 2006

Published: Wed 1 Nov 2006 12:58 AM
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 31, 2006
Resumption of Six-Party Talks / North Korea's Announcement That it
Will Return to Talks Without Preconditions / U.S. Has Not Made
UN Security Council Resolution 1718 Created New Geopolitical
Environment / Costs and Consequences to North Korea's Actions
Implementation of Resolution 1718 to Continue
U.S. Wants Next Round of Talks to be Productive, Begin Before End
of Year / September 19 Joint Statement is Starting Point
U.S. Seeks Verifiable Denuclearization of Korean Peninsula
U.S. Did not Freeze North Korean Assets / U.S. Provided Evidence,
Bank Froze Assets
Chinese Work in Getting North Korea Back to Talks Important
All Members of Six Party Talks Have Diplomatic Leverage, Interest
in Security Situation in Northeast Asia
Glenn Amendment Implementation and Further Sanctions
U.S. – South Korean Alliance Strong / South Korea Must Decide on
its Own Whether to Join Proliferation Security Initiative
U.S. Deeply Committed to Sudan / U.S. Wants International Force in
Sudan, Looking for Options
12:23 p.m. EST
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. I don't have any opening statements, so we can get right into your questions.
QUESTION: Sean, on North Korea, of course.
QUESTION: Please, is the U.S. making any concessions here? And in that format, should they get rolling again, will there be opportunities, as there were in the past, for direct U.S.-North Korean talks?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the North Korean Government has said that it is returning without precondition to the talks, so that's very positive. In terms of U.S. concessions, I think not, Barry. You can speak to the North Korean officials about their decision-making and the reasons why they decided to come back to the six-party talks. But for our part, we have been prepared for some time to return to the six-party talks and we welcome the fact that North Korea has announced today that they have decided to return to the six-party talks. We hope to have a meeting sometime between now and the end of the year. We want that to be a productive meeting. We want it to be an effective meeting. So we're going to take some time to prepare as will other members of the six-party talks, I expect.
QUESTION: Will it be in Beijing again, do you think?
MR. MCCORMACK: I expect. They haven't announced a venue, but I expect it will probably be in Beijing.
QUESTION: Sean, when you say "In terms of the concessions, I think not," that means, no, the United States did not offer any conditions or concessions for the North Koreans to come back?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. They have previously talked about the fact that they are interested in clearing up issues related to Banco Delta Asia and other so-called financial issues. We have for some time said that we would be happy to talk about these issues in the context of the six-party talks and that remains our position.
QUESTION: I'm sorry. The second half of my question was whether there would be opportunity within the context of these talks for the U.S. to talk to North Korea directly as there has been in the past?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm sure. I'm sure, Barry, that there will be an opportunity for us within the context of the talks to have direct contact that's happened in the past, I would expect that when we have this next round of talks, it would happen again.
QUESTION: I realize you said we could talk to North Korean officials about this, but it's not like they're real easy to talk to, as the State Department is well aware, since they refused to talk to you guys for about a year. But you guys have at least talked to them recently and they have agreed. What is your sense of what has motivated them?
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, our insight to their decision-making processes, as you know, is not that great. It's a rather opaque decision-making process. So really, I couldn't tell you. I don't want to give you a sense, a feeling for why they may have returned to the six-party talks. That really is, in the fullness of time, a question that they may answer themselves. I do think, though, that in the wake of the passage of Security Council Resolution 1718 that North Korea faced a quantitatively different geopolitical environment. And you had North Korea's neighbors, like China and South Korea and Japan, talking seriously about implementing 1718 and faithfully executing those obligations. And you saw some evidence that they had already started that.
We ourselves had said that we were going to do what we can to make sure that 1718 got implemented. So look, I can't draw a causal link for you. But I think it is clear that in the wake of their test, that it became very clear that there were going to be costs and consequences for their actions and that they faced even greater isolation from the rest of the international community. I want to make it clear that implementation of 1718 is going to continue. I would expect that we have some officials that will travel out to the region in the not too distant future to talk about implementation of 1718.
QUESTION: Who might that be? Would that be Under Secretary --
MR. MCCORMACK: We'll keep you up to date on the who, the when and the where. The what will be talking about implementation of 1718. I'm sure they will also touch on preparations for a presumed six-party talks round two.
QUESTION: What other, if I may -- just as you say that they face a changed geopolitical environment, you face a changed geopolitical environment because they now have tested. Does that not suggest that these talks might be even more difficult, that the North Koreans might be even more obdurate because they now have in their hip pocket a card which they didn't have before, which is a demonstrated nuclear capability?
MR. MCCORMACK: I can't predict what the atmosphere is going to be like. I think you -- Chris Hill talked about the fact there was a very business-like tone during his meetings today in Beijing. We would only hope that that focus and that attitude would carry over into a six-party talk round. Let's be clear, we want this and I think every other member of the six-party talks wants this round to be effective. We want it to be -- further the cause of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula based on the September 19th joint statement. So that's your starting point. And the question now is how far down the road in implementing that joint statement, fleshing it out with specific details, concrete actions, can we go. And we want this to be an effective round not just another discussion. This should be an effective round of discussions.
QUESTION: Did they give you any sense that they are willing to talk substantively about these things? I mean Secretary Rice said recently it can't just be talks about talks, they have to show a serious willingness to come back to this. Did they show that, or do you have any reason to believe this will be anything other than just talks about talks?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we would expect that it would be.
QUESTION: Did they reaffirm the September statement -- the September agreement of last year?
MR. MCCORMACK: I didn't talk to Chris specifically about that, but I haven't heard them walk away from the September statement either. Look, we will see. We will see how these talks progress. As we've said, I think there's a real seriousness of purpose certainly on the part of the United States, on the part of the other four members of the six-party talks, and we would expect that you would see that same seriousness and purpose on the part of the North Koreans. There's a common goal. Everybody signed up to it. And now the task is how do you get to that common goal with concrete steps.
Yes, Sylvie.
QUESTION: The President said that he's going to send teams in the region.
QUESTION: What kind of teams to --
MR. MCCORMACK: That's what we were just talking about. We're going to do the who, when and where I think the next --
QUESTION: The State Department?
MR. MCCORMACK: -- couple of days. Yeah, I expect probably the State Department folks maybe accompanied by representatives from other agencies as well. It will be -- we'll let you know over the next couple of days. We're still working out itineraries and who will be on it. The what of question, who, what, when and where will be talking about implementation of Resolution 1718, and I would expect also that they would probably touch upon expectations for this next round of six-party talks and probably have some preliminary discussions about how to make that effective, make it an effective round of discussions.
QUESTION: So it will be before the resuming of the talks?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. I would expect that our folks go out in the next, you know, week or two. What we are looking for now is resumption of the next round of talks sometime between now and the end of the year. As you know, there isn't a date scheduled yet. There's not agreement on a date yet. I expect it's going to be in Beijing, but we don't have that set yet as well. So we'll keep you up to date as best we can on all the dates for these travels, starting with this team going out.
QUESTION: And also, you have been courting China to play a positive role, a role of responsible stakeholder in the international community, and does the role they played in this -- this affair, does this role change something in your position about them? Do you think it could -- you could broaden their -- your cooperation with them after that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have. I think China in the wake of the detonation of the North Korean device made some fundamental decisions and you saw that manifested in their vote in support of a very, very tough UN Security Council resolution. And then that was followed up by very good discussions with Secretary Rice when she traveled to Beijing about what China was going to do in implementing 1718 in a serious manner, and then also discussions about how regionally we might cooperate.
So I think that China has made some important decisions here and in terms of the breadth and depth of our relationship it is a very broad, broad and deep, complex relationship. As we have always said, we try to build on those areas where we have common purpose and areas of cooperation. And where there are differences, and they still remain, we'll try to talk in an open, honest manner and focus on how do you resolve the differences.
But certainly we have worked very well together with China, I would say, since the beginning of the six-party talk process. And you heard President Bush today specifically thank the Chinese Government for its efforts in getting this next round of talks together. They were the ones who originally came to us last week with a proposal for this meeting format related to the six-party talks. I think it was probably last Wednesday.
And Secretary Rice talked about the proposal with some of her advisors. She certainly talked about it with her counterparts and folks at the White House as well, and then we gave a positive answer that we would intend to go on -- I think it was Friday. So we worked on the logistics of it. Chris Hill, our Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, was still in the region so we put him on an airplane to Beijing and had the meetings earlier today.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that real quick?
MR. MCCORMACK: Nicholas has been waiting. We'll come back to you.
QUESTION: Sean, back on those teams. When the President spoke this morning, I thought he meant some sort of expert level teams that would verify how -- and observe how the resolution is being implemented. Now, from what I understand, these are -- these State Department people mostly, they're probably going to hold some sort of political level discussions with the host country and I'm wondering how exactly are they going to make sure that the resolution is being implemented if they're not experts on those kinds of things.
MR. MCCORMACK: We have experts here, too, on these kinds of issues.
MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, stay tuned. We'll fill you in on the who, the when and the where. I said that there are State Department people on the teams going out. There could be representatives from other agencies as well. So just stay tuned, stay tuned on that. They're going to be effective discussions, focused discussions, and our primary purpose is to talk about implementation of 1718. I'm sure there are going to be other discussions, probably on bilateral issues as well. And I would expect that they would probably touch as well upon how we would go about making this an effective round. So we'll keep you up to date in the next couple of days.
QUESTION: When we were in the region, the Secretary said that she had -- she would have no problem holding a ministerial level six-party talks with obviously all the six countries. At this point, is that anywhere on the radar? Because clearly the first -- that first session would be, I assume, Chris Hill and his level counterparts. But any ministerials in the works at this point?
MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, nothing to announce. In terms of the next round, we will get back to you with the modalities -- that's a great State Department word -- and talk about the venue and the agenda and who's going to be sitting in what chair and all that stuff.
QUESTION: Oh, so you can't even say that it will be a Chris Hill level meeting?
MR. MCCORMACK: I would expect. That's been the pattern in the past. But you know, we haven't even agreed on a date yet, never mind, you know, what the table looks like and who's sitting around it.
Yes, Kirit.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on Sylvie's. Is this the first time the Chinese have come to us with that kind of a trilateral proposal?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. This happened -- it was very similar to the format of Chris Hill's meetings back in July of 2005. And those, if you remember back then in 2005, had the same sort of format, bilateral, bilateral, trilateral, followed up by some more bilaterals. And that was in July of 2005 and you had the next round of the six-party talks that started in September of that year. So this is a formula, if you will, that we've seen before and that the Chinese have proposed before.
QUESTION: When was the last time they proposed it before this recent one?
MR. MCCORMACK: Can't tell you. Don't know.
QUESTION: You talked about North Korean intentions. I'm just wondering, you know, you talk about a seriousness of purpose on the part of the five parties involved. There's got to be a healthy amount of skepticism, you know, on the part of the five parties that North Korea is really serious about getting something done in the six-party process. I mean, how would you describe the mood among the five parties as to, you know, North Korean intentions?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in terms of the other five parties --
MR. MCCORMACK: -- they can speak specifically about theirselves about the readings of North Korean intentions. But we would expect -- I would put it that way -- we would expect that North Korea would come to this round of talks with a seriousness of purpose to start using the September 19th joint statement as a starting point. The question then becomes how do you implement that joint statement which provides an excellent framework for moving forward? So that is our expectation. We communicated that. Also Chris communicated that clearly today not only to his Chinese counterparts but to the North Koreans as well.
QUESTION: It's your expectation, but are you skeptical? I mean --
MR. MCCORMACK: We shall see. We shall see. We are committed to serious diplomacy here. We are committed to a diplomatic path that gets results. The objective is clear, a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, and that is how we are approaching this issue, working through diplomatic means to achieve concrete results, and that will be our approach to these discussions, and we hope it is the approach of the other members of the six-party talks.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? You actually said we would expect that same seriousness of purpose on the part of the North Koreans. Do you have reason to expect that or is that just a hope as you -- you just said hope. I'm just trying to get a sense -- do you really have -- did you get any sense from them that they're going to be serious about this or not really?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think that the fact that after a year they have said that they're coming back to the six-party talks and that they agreed to come back to the six-party talks without preconditions is a welcomed step. That certainly adds a more positive atmosphere than we have had over the past year regarding the six-party talks. As I said, our expectation is that they will come with a seriousness of purpose. We hope that is the case, and we'll see. We'll see if that hope is born out.
Yes, David.
QUESTION: President Bush also mentioned and you as well that you want a verifiable rollback. Now is a key benchmark of that going to be a return of IAEA inspectors presumably, and is that going to be something that's --
MR. MCCORMACK: There are a lot of different ways to go at this. I'm not going to try to presume what might be proposals that people lay out on the table at this point. So we shall see. I'm sure that that will be part of the considerations as we go down this road of how exactly do you achieve in concrete ways the objectives that have been laid out and the requirements that have been laid out. What we're looking for is irreversible, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that addresses all of their nuclear programs. And there will be a lot of different ideas about how to achieve that. That's why you have negotiations. So we'll see.
QUESTION: Weren't some of those elements already embodied in the September 19th agreement which, if they're coming back on the basis of that, then presumably they're accepting those terms.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as I've said before in answer to an earlier question, they haven't walked away from the September 19th framework agreement. And the agreement is, while a very good agreement, it is a framework agreement. It does not flesh out specifically how to achieve objectives and the commitments that are laid out in there. It's a series of commitments in essence on the part of the members of the six-party talks, and also a statement of objectives, what are we trying to do in the six-party talk round. There are a lot of different things that can be discussed in that context. We are focused on how to achieve the first of those objectives, a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?
QUESTION: One of the things that Chris Hill had said is that the U.S. was willing to talk about the counterfeiting issues and the financial sanctions issue perhaps within the idea of a working group. Can you discuss what you mean by address? Do you see this as what you've offered before, an opportunity to explain why you do what you did and what North Korea needs to stop doing to get out of these sanctions? Or do you see this potential working group as part of the negotiations in terms of lifting those sanctions?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, the root cause of why you have the specific actions taken by some parties is illicit Korean behavior. In terms of the Banco Delta Asia or other financial issues, we're willing to address them. I will put it that way. We are willing to address those issues in the context of the six-party talks. You can have a variety of different mechanisms. You can have a working group in order to discuss these issues.
I think the North Koreans understand the easy way around these questions and that is not to engage in illicit behavior. And U.S. law and regulations are very clear, we're happy to have the discussion about that, but I'm not going to presume what the discussion might be in the context of the six-party talks. It is worth noting, however, that there's a common misperception out there that it was actually the United States that froze these assets. This was action taken by the bank as well as the Macau authorities. So it's not the United States that has frozen these assets. We did provide information to the bank about what their bank and the accounts might be being used for, but that was the extent of our involvement.
QUESTION: Sean, did I understand you to say earlier in response to one of Arshad's questions that North Korea has been working to clear up this problem regarding Banco Delta Asia?
MR. MCCORMACK: I -- no -- you'd have to talk to them about that.
QUESTION: Okay, so you've gotten no sense that they've -- you have no evidence that they have stopped committing the acts that were objectionable to us?
MR. MCCORMACK: Illicit activities? No, I still think that they are engaged in a variety of different illicit activities.
QUESTION: Did I understand you to say also that when the Chinese proposed this unusual trilateral mechanism that produced this result, that Secretary Rice sought approval to go forward with it from President Bush?
MR. MCCORMACK: She consulted with her colleagues and she did talk to the President about it, yes.
QUESTION: Did he sign off on it per se?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to get into the interactions between the Secretary and the President. Those are private conversations, but she did talk to him about it, yes.
QUESTION: Why did you keep this meeting secret?
MR. MCCORMACK: Why did we keep the meeting secret from the media?
QUESTION: Correct?
MR. MCCORMACK: It's -- sometimes it is more effective in able to bring together a meeting and to make it happen and to produce the results to do those efforts quietly. It happens often. It's oftentimes the way you do diplomacy.
QUESTION: Last question or two on the same thing here. When did North Korea agree to return to the talks?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think in a formal sense today because that's when they informed the Chinese as well as us that they were ready to return to the talks. When they made that decision, I can't tell you. But I know today is when we were assured and the Chinese were assured that they were going to return to the talks.
QUESTION: Lastly, how influential in making this decision -- do you have any sense for how influential in making -- in producing this decision Counselor Tang's visit to Pyongyang was?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, that gets into why the North Koreans decided to return to the six-party talks. Again, that's something you'll have to inquire with them about. But State Counselor Tang's visit was another manifestation of how seriously the Chinese Government took this issue. And I think that their work with North Korea in getting them back to the six-party talks was quite important.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) reports that the Chinese according to their trade data didn't deliver any crude oil to North Korea in the month of September before the test, the nuclear test. I wonder if, one, do you have any independent corroboration that that is the case that Chinese didn't send them any fuel, any crude oil? Do you know?
MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing to offer you on it, Arshad. It's probably best that they talk about that. I, myself, haven't asked about that -- haven't been asked about that issue.
QUESTION: You said that the Chinese called you last week and you decided at the end of the end of the week to say yes.
QUESTION: Why did you decide to say yes? What made you change your mind about separate discussions?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we didn't change our mind about separate discussions. We have done this in the past, as I pointed out, in July of 2005. And Secretary Rice talked about this on her trip, so this is not out of our past pattern of behavior. I tried to draw a distinction between discussions and negotiations. This was not a negotiation, but we have from time to time found it useful to sit down with the North Koreans in a variety of configurations. We have the New York channel. We have done this -- we have had this kind of meeting in the past. And it has on occasion proven useful.
Now you ask: Why? The basic reason is that we saw this as an opportunity to further our diplomacy. And if North Korea has -- the view was if North Korea was, in fact, willing to come back to the six-party talks, that it was worth agreeing to have this kind of meeting to hear that from the North Korean delegation. Because ultimately it is our view that if we're going to find a diplomatic solution to everybody's common objective here of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, that you're going to achieve that, using this diplomatic mechanism, the six-party talks.
QUESTION: Did you have a sense that they were coming back, even before you agreed to go to the meeting? I'm sorry, it's just not clear to me. Did the Chinese say we think they're willing to come back to the six-party talks --
MR. MCCORMACK: I think there was a possibility. I think that was an open possibility.
QUESTION: Sean -- spread it around, the questions here.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, no, we're --
QUESTION: Can I ask did the North Koreans understand at the time of the meeting that the momentum of the sanctions would not slow down? Were they fully aware that everything was going to continue the way that, you know, and that these meetings in Asia were going to continue about how to implement the UN resolution?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think that that is -- if you're reading the newspaper or watching TV that was pretty clear. And Chris also reiterated that fact that implementation of 1718 would continue.
QUESTION: He reiterated that at the meeting?
QUESTION: And can I -- Mike Green has said in the past that he did not think the financial counterfeiting was what caused the North Koreans to lose interest in the statement. He said that it was after the North Koreans understood that they would not be getting a light-water reactor right away; that it would take a long time; that they sort of decided not to participate anymore. And I'm wondering if that is the view here that -- of why the North Koreans, you know.
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, Farrah, you're going to have to -- Mike is a smart guy and he knows a lot about the topic. Look, I can't tell you why at that point they decided that they were not going to return to the six-party talks or at least have the next round not be the kind of round that we had all hoped it would be. They very clearly understood back in Beijing in September 2005 what they were signing up for. There was no ambiguity about this issue of the light-water reactor. And I know we got almost immediately after the talks ended, a joint statement signed that we started to get into this discussion that was raised by the North Koreans.
QUESTION: Has there been any new discussion about light-water reactors?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. Our position is unchanged from September 2005.
QUESTION: No, I mean -- but in these recent meetings, nothing?
MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I'm aware of. Not that I'm aware of -- certainly not from our part.
Yes, Elise.
QUESTION: You've emphasized the importance of these six-party talks in terms of that all the partners need to be at the talks. The fact that these talks were with China and the United States, what does that say about what North Korea really wants? It really wants to talk to the United States and this is what got North Korea to agree to come back to the talks. So why can we not say that the rest of the partners are really irrelevant except for the U.S. and China?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, I can't stop you from saying those sorts of things.
QUESTION: No, I mean --
MR. MCCORMACK: I think you would be wrong.
QUESTION: But why? Why? I mean, it's really -- they've said all along they really want to talk to the United States. They only agreed to come back to the talks after sitting with the United States. So China --
QUESTION: Well, China as the host of the talks and the United States as the main party that they want -- that they want at the talks. So why are the other partners not window dressing?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, again, you know, I can't stop you from saying those sorts of things. But it just, frankly, has no basis in fact. We are dedicated to this framework. We are -- this framework was first put in place because each of the countries sitting around the table has some form of leverage, whether it's diplomatic, political or economic leverage, with North Korea. And the view was that if you're going to resolve this diplomatically and get to a real solution where you have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, you are going to have to apply that diplomatic -- all possible diplomatic leverage to make that happen.
The other thing is all of these countries have an interest in the security situation in Northeast Asia. We are the only ones who are not a neighbor of North Korea, although North Korea does pose certain threats, of course. We have treaty alliances with South Korea and Japan. So there is a reason why we're there. There's a reason why every single other one of those countries are there. There are other countries, clearly, that have an interest in this issue. We've seen that in the so-called five plus five discussions.
But this, we believe, is the optimal group of countries to get to a negotiated solution. That's what we're trying to do. They all have different kinds of relationships with North Korea, they all have different interests with respect to North Korea, but we all share a common objective and we think that this is the most effective means and having these -- this configuration around the table to get to our common objective.
Yes, Libby.
QUESTION: Just a quick question on how the State Department views this. Some have written that, you know, this is a breakthrough, but would you consider it a breakthrough or do you have to see more results before you consider --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm not going to stop anybody from saying it's a breakthrough. It's a welcome development. It's a welcome development, but there's work to be done. And we're -- our efforts are going to be focused on implementation of 1718 and seeing that this next round is as effective a round as it can be using the joint statement as a starting point.
Yes, George.
QUESTION: Can there be an effective round if they don't concede the existence of a uranium enrichment program?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they already have. They already have conceded it.
QUESTION: Are you talking about that brief conversation in October of '02 when they said yes and then for the past five years they've been saying no? Four years they've been saying --
MR. MCCORMACK: You only have to say yes once to acknowledge the existence of a uranium program.
QUESTION: Well, all right.
MR. MCCORMACK: And again, I think if you ask anybody on the American side in that room what they heard, and they're pretty sure what they heard, and that was that they acknowledged the existence of a uranium program. And what we're talking about in any case is a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. So regardless of whether somebody in a public forum admits to a uranium program, the September 19th joint statement would encompass that as well.
QUESTION: Sean, can there be an effective round if they don't give up these illicit activities that you referred to?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, James, let's not get ahead of ourselves here.
QUESTION: I'm not getting ahead of ourselves. I'm referring to the status quo.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, of course, we would encourage North Korea to cease its activities -- illicit activities. But we are -- this round we're ready to discuss a whole variety of different things, as outlined by the joint statement. The focus, I think, of certainly the United States as well as the other four members of the six-party talks is on the nuclear issue and how do you get to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
QUESTION: And you said illicit activities. You used the plural form. Do you have something in mind besides counterfeiting?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there is -- we know about counterfeiting. That's been something that we have acted on. You have also seen the traffic in illicit drugs. That is something Australia has experienced. So there are a variety of illicit activities that are widely acknowledged that North Korea is engaged in.
Let's move it around a little bit. Yes, sir, in the back.
QUESTION: As part of the -- you're saying for -- as part of the six-party talks you're willing to discuss some of the financial measures that have taken place --
MR. MCCORMACK: Address the issue, discuss the issue.
QUESTION: Yes. Would that -- are you -- is the State Department and the U.S., are they considering that more like what happened in New York as basically an explanation of the steps that we have taken; or are you considering within those meetings, whether they're working group meetings or whatever, are you considering steps to relieve some of the pressure so that the talks can move forward?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think at this point I would just – we are very early on in this particular process. I'm just going to leave it the way that I've left it and that Chris has left it.
QUESTION: And one follow-up. Japanese -- there's reports out of Japan that the Foreign Minister has made comments that they're not willing to come back as long as North Korea says they're a nuclear power. Have you heard anything about that through diplomatic channels?
MR. MCCORMACK: I hadn't -- no, I hadn't heard that. No.
QUESTION: Sean, did Chris Hill say -- were there any discussions in Beijing at the meeting about the possibility of Chris Hill going to Pyongyang before six-party talks resume?
MR. MCCORMACK: Between now and, say, the end of the year?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any discussions.
QUESTION: Would you rule it out or --
MR. MCCORMACK: As far as I know, Charlie, it's not on the drawing board.
QUESTION: This on South Korea. South Korea seems reluctant to join PSI. If South Korea do eventually not join the PSI, how will it affect the U.S. and South Korea alliance?
MR. MCCORMACK: This is -- look, we have a treaty alliance that is both a formal alliance on paper and in practice as well. You look at our military cooperation. You look at American troops stationed on the Peninsula. You look at our economic ties. We're starting a discussion on a free trade agreement. You look at the cultural ties between the United States and South Korea. This is a very close, close relationship.
In terms of PSI, this is going to be a decision for South Korea to make. Certainly we have had a closer and closer relationship with South Korea on this issue. But whether or not they join formally as a member or they have some other means of cooperation with PSI is going to be a decision for South Korea to make.
Yes, sir.
QUESTION: I'd like to clarify the timing of next round. So you said it will be by the end of year?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, what we hope for, what we're looking for, is something by the end of the year.
QUESTION: So you --
MR. MCCORMACK: -- that's reasonable.
QUESTION: Did you get any clear agreement with North Korea on that?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, not on the date. No.
Yes, sir.
QUESTION: I just want to get a better idea of the timing of these trilateral talks that occurred last week. At what point were the other (inaudible) informed or were they surprised this morning?
MR. MCCORMACK: We informed them beforehand.
QUESTION: By – like Wednesday when the Chinese came to you guys or --
MR. MCCORMACK: We informed them beforehand.
QUESTION: Beforehand.
QUESTION: Can I follow up just a little bit my question. Will Bob Joseph, Under Secretary, will visit Asia next month?
MR. MCCORMACK: Excuse me?
MR. MCCORMACK: Bob Joseph?
QUESTION: Bob Joseph, yes, the Under Secretary.
MR. MCCORMACK: We will keep you up to date on the travel schedule of various people going out --
QUESTION: Yes, but why he didn't go South Korea? He just go to China and Japan, and how come?
MR. MCCORMACK: I would expect that Bob will, along with others, will be traveling -- traveling out to the region in the near future. But we'll keep you up to date on schedules and who and all the rest of that stuff.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, ma'am, in the back.
QUESTION: On Taiwan -- is that okay? Go to Taiwan?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, do we have others on North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: All right. Yeah, we have a couple more, and then we'll come back to you.
Yes, sir. Right there.
QUESTION: Are you still contemplating to impose your own additional sanctions, including what they call Glenn amendment?
MR. MCCORMACK: Glenn amendment?
MR. MCCORMACK: The Glenn amendment is very specific. There are specific triggers in the law. When you have a non-nuclear weapons state that tests a nuclear device, these sanctions are automatically triggered. So we, as I said, we are continuing with implementation of 1718 and all of the -- and any other steps that are dictated by our laws and regulations.
QUESTION: So you don't think putting additional pressure can damage the momentum of this resumption of talks?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we -- this conversation about the six-party talks and the resumption of the six-party talks all takes place within the context of implementation of 1718. That continues. And I would expect that all our other partners in the six-party talks would probably -- probably say the same thing, is that they are continuing along with implementation of 1718.
QUESTION: What does the Glenn amendment specifically call for?
MR. MCCORMACK: There are a number of different sanctions, George. Off the top of my head, I can't tell you exactly in what areas. We have already in place a number of different sanctions, so I can't tell you off the top of my head.
QUESTION: Just a couple more things, Sean. On the Glenn amendment, I think it's probably reasonable for one to expect that between now and the resumption of the six-party talks the United States is not going to do anything more in terms of sanctions to anger North Korea. Is that a reasonable expectation?
MR. MCCORMACK: I have heard no indication from my colleagues that we are going to do anything other than faithfully implement and execute the law.
QUESTION: Okay. And also, do you happen to know about how long the meeting was today with Chris Hill and the Chinese and the North Korean officials?
MR. MCCORMACK: I can't -- I can't tell you.
QUESTION: And this was -- he was -- so he was --
MR. MCCORMACK: It took place over the course of a couple hours.
QUESTION: So anyway, it wasn't a dinner meeting or anything like that?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, they -- it was -- they had a couple bilaterals, they had a trilateral lunch, and I think there were some bilaterals after that.
QUESTION: Bilaterals North Korea-U.S. or China-U.S. or --
MR. MCCORMACK: It was all stripes. You had China-North Korea, China-U.S. trilateral lunch, then I believe Chris met on a bilateral basis with his North Korean counterpart. And I can't tell you if there are any others involving the Chinese. That's the scope of what I know.
QUESTION: Right. And is the plan for him to come back now from Beijing to --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I think he's going to be leaving -- I think either -- probably tomorrow, our time.
QUESTION: What was the purpose of the bilateral U.S.-North Korean discussion?
MR. MCCORMACK: Just a follow-up, a follow-up discussion.
QUESTION: But had you -- at that point, did you know that they were coming back? Was that a -- was that decided in the trilateral?
QUESTION: So what did you need to follow up on?
MR. MCCORMACK: Chris decided and was authorized to have a bilateral discussion with them. I can't tell you what they talked about.
QUESTION: Do you know how long that lasted?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know.
QUESTION: Sean, change of subject. Right about now, Nick Burns is across town over at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown addressing a U.S.-Afghan business group, ostensibly to look at the matchmaking for some economic progress. But is that a tie-in to a phasing out of the drug trade and moving that whole Afghan region into some prosperity? Now it's linked as well to Pakistan and it may be Halloween, but it's a scary report that the Pakistanis are opening of Tora Bora region for vacation tourists. So how do you the last four or five years rate the Pakistani military in actually finding bin Laden and ending all this turmoil since 9/11?
MR. MCCORMACK: The Pakistanis are working hard to fight terrorism.
Dave, do you have one on North Korea, or what are you on?
QUESTION: Well, actually, I had a Taiwan question.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, there you are. You're up.
QUESTION: Taiwan congress didn't pass the arm purchase bill in process yesterday and this time is the 62nd time failure. But some believe this failure this time is credit to AIT Director Stephen Young's remarks. How's your comment?
MR. MCCORMACK: Mr. Young didn't say anything new or different in his remarks. It's happened in the past that this legislation hasn't been passed. I wouldn't draw any linkage between the two.
QUESTION: It's reported in Taiwan that the U.S. is becoming a little distressed over the length of time that the Taiwan parliament or legislature is taking to do the arms package and that the United States has imposed some, I would say, punitive measures, curtailing some contacts, military-to-military contacts, because of this frustration. Is that --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of it. I'll look into it for you.
One other thing. I just want to draw your attention to this. We're going to put out this copy -- it is a statement of principles by participants in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. This is the initiative that President Bush and President Putin agreed to at their summit meeting. Bob Joseph was -- headed our delegation that was in Morocco. I think you now have 13 countries that have signed up to this. It is an important initiative, analogous in its structure to the Proliferation Security Initiative. We all have to remember that PSI started small and it was something new. People didn't really understand it. It has now grown into a very effective global tool to fight proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: Can I just have one more on Sudan? The President this morning talked about working with the international community to come up with a plan. Can you give us any sense of what might be in that plan? Is there any discussion of new ideas to try to motivate the Sudanese to let the UN peacekeeping force in (inaudible) to stop the violence?
MR. MCCORMACK: We are -- based on Andrew's trip, yes, we are taking a look at what we might do, what additionally we might do, what different -- new or different policy proposals we might make. I -- there's nothing I can share with you at this point.
But what all that does is underscore the fact that we want to try to get something done on this issue. There's too much suffering going on there. You saw the President is deeply committed on this issue, as is Secretary Rice, so we're looking for a solution. We think a key part to that solution is an international force going in there. So we are doing a lot of thinking internally as well as in consultation with other interested parties on this.
QUESTION: You said international force. You meant a UN --
MR. MCCORMACK: We're talking about an international force. The proposal now is for a UN force.
QUESTION: But just to say -- no, I'm just thinking -- are you -- are you -- you're moving away from UN then --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I'm not using -- not moving away from a UN force. We're talking about an international force.
QUESTION: A quick question to follow up on that. What was it about Natsios' trip that made you say we have to take another look at this in a different way than you had been ten days ago?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I'm not trying to indicate that there is something dramatic -- dramatically new and different here. But of course we have not been able to achieve the objectives that we wanted to achieve, first of all getting a UN force in there. So the question then is what more might we do. We have over the past several weeks tried to engage much more with Arab states and with the Arab League to see what we can do. So along the way we have tried to adapt our tactics to achieve -- to achieve the tactical goal -- adapt our diplomatic tactics as well.
And you know, of course you haven't gotten to where you want to get yet, so we're going to take a look at -- see -- at what else we might do, what we might do and what others might do.
QUESTION: Sean, just a quick one on Iran. Can you find out for us how much of the $85 million for democracy has been spent and let us know?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure, yeah. We can do that.
QUESTION: Despite a U.S. expression of concern, an Egyptian military court has sentenced the nephew of Sadat to a year in prison and essentially ended his career as a legislator. I wonder if you have any reaction to that.
MR. MCCORMACK: Let me get something for you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:10 p.m.)
Released on October 31, 2006

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