FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Remarks to Reporters at Four Seasons Hotel
Special Representative for North Korea Policy
January 25, 2013
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Hello everybody, my name is Glyn Davies, it’s very good to see you. Thanks for coming out. I’m sorry that it is so late in the evening but I promise that I won’t take up too much of your time. What I wanted to do was simply report to you a bit on our activities today. You know that we arrived this morning from Seoul, South Korea. I’m here with Sydney Seiler from the National Security Staff at the White House, Ambassador Clifford Hart, who is the Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks, as well as colleagues from the State Department. We’ve had a series of meetings with Chinese officials today. We began at the Central Committee International Department, met with Vice Minister Liu Jieyi, then went on to the Foreign Ministry where we met with Vice Minister Fu Ying, and then I had a meeting and a dinner with my counterpart, Ambassador Wu Dawei.
Now, we come here in the wake of some dramatic steps that have been reported on and I know many of you have read the reaction of the White House to the announcements made by North Korea. The White House Spokesman, of course, described the North Korean statements as needlessly provocative, a significant violation of UN Security Council resolutions and warned that this would only increase the isolation of North Korea and divert resources from the North Korean people were they to go ahead with a nuclear test. With Chinese counterparts today, we had very wide-ranging discussions, talked about all aspects of the North Korean challenge, the North Korea issue. We achieved, I think, with our Chinese colleagues a very strong degree of consensus on the issue. We agreed that Resolution 2087 is an appropriate response, and an important and strong response, to the North Koreans’ launch, on December 12, of a multi-stage rocket. We reached a strong degree of consensus that a nuclear test would be deeply troubling and would set back efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. And, of course, you all know that denuclearization is a necessary precondition to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
So, in addition to that, of course, from the North Koreans came further troubling statements of their intent to renounce their commitment to denuclearization, to walk away from the Six-Party Talks, and from their commitments that were made and contained in the September 2005 Joint Statement. So we are very pleased with the discussions we’ve had today here in Beijing. Tomorrow morning, very early, too early for any of you to worry about getting up, I think, we will get on a plane and go off to Tokyo for consultations with counterparts and colleagues of the Japanese government. So with that, let me take whatever questions you might have. Over to you.
QUESTION: Hi, from Reuters. Is North Korea’s threat to start war with South Korea if there are further economic sanctions, is that a credible threat?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, I don’t know that it’s for me to comment on the credibility or incredibility of North Korean statements. The fundamental point about North Korea is that we will judge North Korea by its actions, not its words. These types of inflammatory statements by North Korea do nothing to contribute to peace and stability on the peninsula. Now is a moment I think, when all parties in the Six-Party process, and in particular, North Korea should turn their attention to how to peacefully and diplomatically address challenges that concern them so we find this rhetoric troubling and counterproductive.
QUESTION: Ambassador, CNN here. So, China and North Korea are very close allies, so did the Chinese during your meetings give you any clarification or confirmation about how credible the North Korean threats have been, and did you ask for any of their clarification or confirmation and secondly, having joined in to approve that new, latest resolution at the UN, did the Chinese tell you they would follow up with more concrete steps now that North Koreans have unilaterally had these provocative statements.
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: No, I understand those questions, but what I don’t want to do is get into too specifically characterizing the Chinese position. What I said earlier about the degree of consensus we achieved today is about as far as I want to go today. I would direct you to the Chinese authorities for questions about their views about the credibility of threats, or what China’s next steps are. We talked about the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution, and the Chinese told us, assured us, that they would, of course, follow through and implement that Resolution, and we take them at their word.
QUESTION: What other measures will the U.S. take besides sanctions to solve the issue?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, I think the Security Council result is a powerful statement in and of itself and, of course, the first steps we take will be to implement the provisions of the Security Council resolution and you will have already seen today some announcements made out of government departments in Washington to conform to our law, our procedure, to those resolutions. So, that’s what we’re focusing on in the immediate future, we’ll see what events come about in the near-term. And I think it’s very important for all members of the international community to work hard to implement the provisions of not just Resolution 2087, but all of the prior resolutions that pertain to North Korea.
QUESTION: Is your position with the Chinese government this week has been to try to restart the Six-Party Talks despite its failure, I was wondering if in your talks with your Chinese counterparts have you considered any other option?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, we talked about possible diplomatic ways forward, but I think that the immediate challenge we face is dealing with the very provocative language from North Korea and what North Korea has done through its actions, in particular through the launch on December 12 of the rocket in contravention of Security Council resolutions, is they have made it that much more difficult to contemplate getting back to a diplomatic process.
Our policy, articulated by officials from President Obama on down — he gave a speech in Burma just at the end of last year that made this clear — is of course, to be prepared to respond to concrete steps taken by North Korea in order to engage in the diplomatic process going forward. If they reach out their hand, we’re quite prepared to reciprocate. So that’s where we are right now. This is a difficult moment that North Korea has put all of us in. It will require a lot of hard work, not just on the part of the partners in the Six-Party process, but all members of the international community, to make clear to North Korea that it faces a choice, and the choice is between further isolation, and indeed impoverishment of its people, or fulfilling its commitments, living up to the expectations that it set when it signed up to the September 2005 Joint Statement, and that’s really the state of play.
So we’re concentrating our efforts right on dealing with those issues. And we’ll see whether there will be room for diplomacy in the future. That’s up to North Korea. They’re the ones who have the choice and can take the steps to make that happen.
QUESTION: Brian Spegele from the Wall Street Journal. You mentioned a moment ago you need to differentiate North Korea’s actions from its words, take the two separately. In this case, can you explain a little more what you mean by that is specifically related to what’s been going on over the last few days and weeks, do we have any reason in this case to, and why we need to do that specifically here?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: What I don’t want to do, because I don’t think it would be helpful at this stage, is get into any kind of proscriptive laying out of steps that North Korea needs to take. We’ve been engaged in discussions with North Korea bilaterally, multilaterally, over a period of many years. There are a number of documents that one can look at that encapsulate the undertakings that North Korea have made, so I think it’s well understood what North Korea must do if it is to come back into compliance with Security Council resolutions and come back to fulfilling the commitments that it itself has made. So at this juncture, I’m not going to get into, I’m certainly not going to try to negotiate with North Korea through the press.
Are there any other questions?
QUESTION: Is there a sense that China is becoming exasperated with North Korea?
AMBASSADOR DAVIES: That’s a question that you really ought to put to the Chinese. What I’d like to put the focus on right now is the fact that with the Chinese, over a period of time in New York, we were able to achieve a resolution that I think helps clarify for North Korea the choice they face and it’s an expression of the views of the international community, that can help all members of the international system understand better how they can play a role in conveying to North Korea the importance of North Korea living up to its expectations and meeting its commitments.
It’s very late. I don’t want to keep you here tonight. I want to thank you very much. At some point I’ll be back in Beijing and I hope I have a chance to talk with you again and answer your questions.
Thanks very much, talk to you again, bye-bye.