Ambassador Schieffer Comments on Six-Party Agreement

Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer
Comments to Reporters Regarding Six-Party Talks
The Westin Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo, Japan

February 14, 2007

QUESTION: This is about the six-party talks. How do you evaluate the agreement that the six countries reached yesterday?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think it's a great first step. And I think it's one that we can all take some comfort in, that we have taken that first step. But it's certainly not the end. What we should remember is that the parties reaffirmed their belief that a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula is what we all want to have at the end of the day. So I think we've taken that first step. I think it's a very significant step. I congratulate Ambassador Hill for bringing about the communication and compromise between the parties to get it done, but we've got a lot more to do.

QUESTION: What do you think is the most important to implement the agreement?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Everybody has to do what they say they're going to do. We've got an agreement now. This is the first step toward implementation of it, and when the parties implement the agreement, then I think it opens the door to do other things, and hopefully that will happen.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, do you support Japan's policy of not providing the DPRK with fuel oil at this point?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think Japan has made it very clear to all the parties. I think it's very understandable that they have to feel like they have movement on the abduction issue before they're going to be able to give significant aid. I think it's a very understandable position. I think it was very important that a working group was established for Japan and North Korea to address this issue. It is a part of the whole process, and I think everybody understands that if Japan is not able to get movement on this, it's going to be very difficult for them to participate in energy.

QUESTION: Do you believe it possible for the U.S. government to remove the DPRK from the list of state sponsors of terrorism before the abduction cases are resolved?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I wouldn't want to get into all the details of that, but what we have done here is that we have not removed North Korea from the list of terrorist organizations. We have said we would begin the process and examine it. And there's a long way to go before that would happen. But we would like to have normal relations with all nations, and that's the desire that we have. But we have had very difficult problems with North Korea, as has Japan, and I think that we have to look at those issues and why we've had those problems, and we have to have some assurance that they're not going to occur in the future before you'd be able to remove them from the terrorist list. But we're beginning the process, and I think that's a good step.

QUESTION: According to the agreement, North Korea agreed to shut down main nuclear reactor within 60 days, but the North Korean media reportedly said nuclear suspension is only temporary. How do you see this gap?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: The parties affirmed their adherence to the September 2005 agreement, and in that agreement all the parties said that their aim was to have a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. So you can't have a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula if you have nuclear weapons programs in North Korea, and I don't think anybody is confused about that. So we have to see how this is going to go. But we've taken this step. It's a good first step, but it's a just the first step. It has to be implemented, and all the parties have to adhere to what they've agreed to. And if they do that, then I think the door is open to do more in the future, which could be positive for everybody involved.