Purpose of Six-Party Talks Is Nuclear-Free Korea, U.S. Envoy Says

By Vince Crawley
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - The most important point for the Six-Party Talks "is to get the North Koreans to begin to denuclearize,” says the lead U.S. envoy for multilateral discussions among North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States set to resume February 8 in Beijing.

"The purpose of this whole exercise is to get the North Koreans to stop operating this terrible reactor and start telling us what programs they have so that we can began to see that those programs are dismantled and abandoned. So we need to get going on denuclearization," Ambassador Christopher Hill told reporters in Tokyo February 5.

The United States also would like to see North Korea have better relations with its neighbors, and Hill said he would like Pyongyang and Tokyo to begin discussions on the sensitive subject of Japanese citizens who have been abducted by North Koreans.

“We hope that Japan and the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the formal name for North Korea] can come to some closure on this very, very sensitive issue for the Japanese public,” Hill, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said of the abductions.

North Korea in September 2005 agreed to halt its nuclear program in exchange for regional economic and energy cooperation. However, the parties involved have not yet negotiated the details of how the agreement would be implemented. (See related article.)

"For months and months we've talked about a statement that exists only on paper, and I think what we're looking for in Beijing is to see if we can move that statement from the paper onto the ground," Hill said.

“I think we’re coming to a very important point now,” Hill said. “We are hoping to make some progress in Beijing. It’s going to be difficult, but we hope we can begin the process implementing the September 2005 joint statement.”

In January, Hill met in Berlin with his North Korean counterpart. After the meeting, Hill said he has reason to believe that “there is a basis for making some progress this time” in the talks. (See related article.)

Transcripts of Hill's remarks are available on the State Department Web site.

For more information on U.S. policies, see The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.