Armitage Speaks to the Press after MOFA Meeting

Deputy Secretary Armitage
Remarks to Press Following Meeting at MOFA
Tokyo, October 12, 2004

QUESTION: We heard that in your talks with Japanese officials today, you have agreed to speed up talks on U.S. forces transformation and realignment in Japan. What do you see as the main obstacle?

Deputy Secretary Armitage: Well, let me explain that, during the meeting of the Prime Minister and the President in New York at the time of the U.N. General Assembly, there was general agreement on the need to accelerate the process, to enhance deterrence and to reduce the burden in Japan. And these are sort of the guiding principles that we are looking at. I believe that both sides have a much better understanding of each other now, and we will continue the process of talks. There is no single issue which holds us apart; it's just a matter of trying to get all three of those things - acceleration, enhanced deterrence and to lessen the burden - in such a way that our relationship is enhanced. So these are difficult things and they have to be worked through.

QUESTION: On North Korea, there are growing expectations that the next round of six-way talks may be difficult to hold before the November U.S. presidential elections. When do you see, when do you think the next round of six-way talks will be held?

Deputy Secretary Armitage: Unfortunately, I don't have a good crystal ball regarding North Korea, but it appears that since we've only got about 22 days I think, until our election, that the North Koreans don't have much interest in holding talks before then. I think this is a miscalculation on their part. Our President is patient ... President Bush, and the U.S. Congress is entirely behind the efforts of President Bush, so if the North Koreans feel they need to wait, then they'll wait, but it's a miscalculation. Thank you very much.