U.S. negotiator briefs again – says North Korea will disable its nuclear programs this year

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told journalists Monday evening in Geneva that the just-ended two-day round of talks with North Korea in Geneva was “the fourth of five working groups that we’ve held in connection with getting ready for the next Six-Party plenary. The fifth working group will take place next week in Ulanbaatar in Mongolia between Japan and the DPRK. I would say we had, I think, very good and very substantive talks. I think we have an expectation that, because of this bilateral meeting, that we can look forward to a better chance of success at the next Six-Party plenary. We discussed all issues, of course focusing very much on the bilateral issues but not excluding, of course, the main event in the Six Parties, which is the denuclearization.

And one thing that we agreed on is that the DPRK will provide a full declaration of all of their nuclear programs and will disable their nuclear programs by the end of this year, 2007.

I think this is very important. Of course, we will have to work out some of the details of this in the Six-Party process. As I’ve stressed many times, this is not a bilateral process at all. It’s a multilateral Six-Party process. But we had a very good understanding of this today and an understanding that we need pick up the pace and get through this phase in 2007.

Our hope, of course, in getting through this phase in 2007 is to get on to other events in 2008 such that we can finish this job in the calendar year 2008 and complete the implementation of the September ’05 statement. It’s, of course, going to require continued, a great deal of effort on everyone’s part. We’re especially appreciative to the Chinese, who continue to be in the chair and a key factor in the Six-Party process. Indeed, I look forward to briefing China and the other delegations on our talks today …

[W]hat we’re in this for is not just declarations or disabling of facilities. We’re in this for denuclearization.  We want to complete the task, to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula …

[W]hat we’re looking forward to as well as we get into calendar year ’08 – thanks to the expectation that we can complete this disabling in calendar year ’07 – is we can get on with beginning this Northeast Asian peace and security mechanism. The Russian Federation has done a lot of work on that as the Chairman of that particular working group …

QUESTION: Did North Korea admit that they have an HEU [highly enriched uranium] program?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We had, I think, a very good discussion about this issue, and we will continue to have good discussions such that I believe we can address this issue in connection with the declaration…”

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