Remarks to Press in Seoul

Glyn Davies
Special Representative for North Korea Policy

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Seoul, South Korea

May 14, 2013

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: It is great to be back in Seoul, especially with this spectacular spring weather that you have got. And today, I had with my colleagues a series of very productive meetings.

We met with Vice Minister Kim at the Unification Ministry, went to the Blue House and met with National Security Director Kim there, and then of course here, and the real reason that I have come to Seoul. I just had an excellent, wide-ranging conversation with my good friend and colleague Ambassador Lim Sung-Nam. We talked about all aspects of the North Korean situation, and we spoke a bit about the way forward.

And what we were doing, of course, was building on the excellent foundation that was established last week in Washington at the summit meeting between our two presidents, the very strong joint statement which made mention of the North Korea issue. And we will continue in that spirit to work on this challenge and to seek with North Korea to continue to focus their attention on the need to live up to their obligations and commitments and move back in a diplomatic direction by taking actions to show their seriousness of purpose on the denuclearization issue, which is the foundation issue of the Six-Party process and the September 2005 Joint Statement.

So that is very much the nature of what I have been doing here in Seoul today. From here, I think as many of you know, I will go on with our delegation, Ambassador Ford Hart, Director Seiler and colleagues to Beijing to talk to the Chinese government, and from there at the end of the week on to Tokyo. The United States remains very strongly committed to seeking ways to address the challenge posed by North Korea, and this visit to Seoul for me has been very productive and positive in that respect. I am very happy to take any questions you have.

QUESTION: The Japanese prime minister’s advisor just arrived in Pyongyang. Were you aware of that, and what is the significance of it?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I had not heard that. So that will obviously be something that I will discuss with the Japanese when I have a chance to talk to my counterparts there in a couple of days. So thank you for that. Question over here.

QUESTION: I think you talked about President Park’s trust-building process. President Obama says that her process is very compatible with his approach. But President Park seems to be seeking your unconditional talk, at least on the resumption of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The United States still maintains a severe condition before entering into official talks with North Korea. So, it seems there is some kind of contradictions between two policies. So, can you explain why they are compatible.

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I do not think that they are incompatible. I think that they are very compatible. In fact, I see in recent weeks and months since the coming to power of President Park Geun-hye a real convergence in South Korean and American approaches on North Korea.

Kaesong is a very particular case, and that is very much a matter in the first instance for the government of the Republic of Korea to deal with. I think it has been dealt with with great maturity and responsibility and firmness and very correctly by Seoul. And we understand completely why the government here would continue to reach out and try to find ways to have conversations with the North Koreans about matters that remain from what is still, as I understand it from the North Korean side, described as a temporary closure of Kaesong.

So there are issues to resolve and I think that it is positive that the President here is looking for ways forward to resolve those issues.

QUESTION: How long are you going to wait for North Korea to live up to its obligations and, like you said, return to diplomatic actions or return to talks? How long is the U.S. willing to wait for this impasse to break?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, see, here is the important thing: The United States is not waiting for North Korea. The United States is engaged in very active diplomacy, in the first instance with the government of the Republic of Korea. Next, obviously, with Japan, our allies. But importantly, at the level of the five parties. Very active diplomacy, constant stream of consultations, conversations.

You know that Ambassador Wu Dawei was just in Washington a matter of weeks ago. I will see him again in Beijing when I go there tomorrow. And then, beyond that core set of nations, the five parties, is the rest of the world. And the rest of the world, we have been active in discussing this problem with nations all over the world. And I think the world saw the result of that after the February 12 nuclear test when, as you have all reported, some 80 nations and international organizations condemned North Korea’s actions. So, the United States is not waiting for anything. We continue our very active diplomacy, at the center of which, as I said at the beginning and I will repeat it again, is this strong alliance relationship with the ROK and, of course, with Japan, which has a role to play on this issue as well.

QUESTION: What is your satisfaction with China reaction right now?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: Well, I have to go China first before I can answer questions where we are with them at the moment, but we had very successful conversations with Ambassador Wu in Washington, talked about all aspects of the issue. And we believe that China, because it has a unique role to play, with its relationship with North Korea, because it has this very strong, traditional relationship with North Korea, strong economic relationship and so forth, that China is in a position perhaps more than most to help clarify for North Korea the choices that it faces and to impress upon North Korea the importance of returning to the path of denuclearization because it is quite alarming that North Korea has said that they are no longer interested in following through on their commitments as they have made them in the September 2005 Joint Statement.

So China has a very, very important role to play, and I look forward to talking to the Chinese about how we can continue to work together, certainly bilaterally, but more importantly, I think, at five, to try to find a way forward so that this issue ultimately can be resolved as it should be resolved, peacefully and diplomatically.

So that is really the task that I have set myself for Beijing. I am happy to take one more question.

QUESTION: Ambassador, when you said these Musudan missiles have been removed from the launch site to North Korea has been interpreted by some as a conciliatory sign from North Korea. Is that how you like to expect to interpret it?

AMBASSADOR DAVIES: I am not going to get into talking about intelligence matters and what may or may not have happened with missiles in North Korea. But I think the important point that I would like to make related to that is that I do not think that we should any longer be in the business of treating the absence of bad behavior as something that needs to be rewarded.

It is, of course, on the face of it, a good thing that North Korea did not fire missiles. But that in and of itself does not get us very far toward the goal that we all seek, which is that North Korea gets back on the path of denuclearization by taking concrete steps to demonstrate that they understand they have obligations in that regard, much less that they must fulfill their obligations to the international community because of the series of UN Security Council Resolutions that pertain to North Korea’s actions.

So, without getting into the types of details that I cannot get into, that is really all I have got to say on that.

Everybody, I hope you understand I have other meetings to go to. Thank you very much for coming today. I look forward to seeing you again when I come back to Seoul. I am not sure when that will be, but I hope it will be soon. Thank you.

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