Progress Cited on Elimination of Korean Nuclear Programs

By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - The chief U.S. envoy to talks aimed at ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons programs said he is “very satisfied” following meetings in Beijing that he described as “the most productive week in the Six-Party process” involving North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Speaking in Beijing July 20, Christopher Hill, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said the envoys agreed to reconvene in August the five working groups established under the February 13 agreement. A ministerial-level meeting in Beijing is expected afterwards.

“I’m very satisfied,” Hill said after the three days of meetings concluded.  “We got the entire Yongbyon [nuclear] complex shut down.  We laid out a vision for where we go from here.”  (See related article.)

According to a press communiqué released July 20 by Chinese envoy Wu Dawei, who chaired the Beijing talks, the working groups on achieving a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, the normalization of U.S.-North Korean relations, the normalization of Japan-North Korean relations, economic and energy cooperation, and the creation of a Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism will meet “before the end of August  to discuss plans for the implementation of the general consensus.”

The six countries then will hold an envoy-level meeting in early September to hear reports from the working groups and develop a road map to implement their decisions.  The communiqué said afterwards a ministerial meeting would convene “as soon as possible … to confirm and promote the implementation of the September 19 [2005] joint statement, the February 13 agreement and the general consensus, and explore ways and means to enhance security cooperation in Northeast Asia.”

Hill said he was very pleased with the work plan outlined in the communiqué and hopes a “clear road map ahead” will result from reconvening the working groups.

He acknowledged “tight deadlines” in implementing the February 13 agreement, but expressed his hope that “with a little luck, we can wrap this all up by the end of the year.”

For additional details, see the full text of the communiqué.

A transcript of Hill’s remarks is available on at the State Department Web site.

For more information on U.S. policy, see Limiting Nuclear Weapons and The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.