THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE WINSTON LORD, SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR ASIAN AFFAIRS STANLEY ROTH AND SENIOR DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL DAN PONEMAN
The Briefing Room
1:48 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: We'll make this very quick because I think some of our briefers need to go over to the memorial. I know the pool's going to leave briefly.
Winston Lord is our Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. And from the National Security Council, Dan Poneman, who is our Senior Director for Nonproliferation and Export Controls and has worked so very closely on the agreed framework on the North Korean nuclear issue, is here, as is Stanley Roth who is our Senior Director for Asian Affairs.
Winston, why don't I turn it over to you, and we'll just take questions quickly from anyone who's got them.
AMBASSADOR LORD: Thank you, Mike.
Literally, just two or three sentences, and then I'll have Dan give a little more flavor to the meetings. He'll essentially respond to your questions, although we can't help you on Bosnia.
I would just point out where we are on the Korean situation compared to where we were, say, about a year ago, when we were in the middle of potential crisis with North Korea, a tension-filled situation and a possible need to go to sanctions and troop deployments, et cetera -- and where we are now on that front. We're not saying the implementation won't be arduous; we are saying it's a much better situation when you compare the two phases. And, therefore, this provides a very positive backdrop to this visit.
The solidarity of U.S.-South Korean relations is clearly underlined. And it moves from our alliance of a security nature, symbolized by the Vietnam* Memorial service today. On top of that, the economic dynamism of Korea which has strengthened our economic ties. And on top of that, most recently, the democratic ties, as South Korea symbolized by Kim Yong Sam himself, to move toward full democracy.
We think the next phase is very important. And there's some hope now that the North-South dimension of this issue will receive the attention. As both Presidents made very clear, the future of the Peninsula must be solved by the Korean people themselves. This again will be a challenge. But the combination of
the fact that KEDO will now be doing a lot of the talking to the North Koreans, and that includes the South Koreans as well as Japanese and ourselves, and rice talks and provision of food from South to North, perhaps provides some opportunities now for genuine North-South dialogue.
Dan, do you want to --
MR. PONEMAN: Thank you, and I will also be very brief. The Presidents met first privately in the Oval Office, and then they met in a larger meeting in the Cabinet Room. I think the thing that really came through was that these are two leaders that have actually gotten to know each other quite well. They have talked many times on the phone; they've met face to face. And so I would say it was, in that sense, a good rapport and a very striking oneness of view about the importance of the issues that really unite us.
There was complete agreement on the fundamentals of the relationship, the security component of the relationship, absolute harmony on the question of the agreed framework, and the need to support KEDO and its efforts to keep the full implementation going.
They discussed a number of other issues that Stanley Roth can comment on in greater detail, touching on matters such as OECD, APEC and that sort of thing. But the thing that, as I say, really came through was that there was a great sense of, one, accomplishment. It is compared to, for example, the November '93 visit -- stunning how little time had to be spent on the nuclear question because this is as, as others have put it, now a dog that does not bark. It's all on track. The program is frozen. The inspectors are there, every day, monitoring the freeze. We are moving ahead on all phases of the implementation and looking forward -- and this is something that the two Presidents addressed -- to the very closest consultation as we move forward, because without that consultation we would not have gotten this far and certainly will be necessary as we move ahead.
But it did move well beyond that subject because that is something that we have moved beyond.
Q May I ask you, what's the problem on the North Korean leadership? I mean, why hasn't the son succeeded its father? What is the problem here?
MR. PONEMAN: It is difficult enough to figure out what goes on here. I have long since given up trying to psychologize what's going on over there. As far as we can tell, we are getting decisions made from there. What specific trigger will lead to the next step, whether or not he takes on additional roles, I don't think we can say.
Q You don't know who is making the decisions?
MR. PONEMAN: We have no reason to think that it's anything other than Kim Jung Il. And as you've heard President Kim Yong Sam say, for now, that seems to be where we are. There are multitudinous theories both of my colleagues are more schooled in about filial piety and the role that plays. I will invite them, if they care to speculate, to do so.
Q Do you give no credence to the idea that they were just waiting the traditional year of mourning before formally taking over?
MR. ROTH: It isn't clear how traditional the traditional year of mourning is. Initially we heard it was a 60-day mourning period, then we heard it was a 90-day mourning period, then we heard it was a year mourning period. Now some people are talking about two to five years of mourning. It really isn't clear how traditional it is.
Q So what are they waiting for do you think? What's your real -- the real reason?
MR. ROTH: Absolutely no idea.
Q Ambassador Lord, did Kim push the United States to broaden its relationship with North Korea? And did he talk at all about how that would help lessen the threat of North Korea to the South?
AMBASSADOR LORD: No, I wouldn't say that's the emphasis. We believe in the first instance it's up to North and South Korea to be talking to themselves to try help shape the future of that Peninsula. But as the President said, we will fully support that. And we are prepared, in close coordination with South Korea, to improve our relations with the North if they implement the agreement and they address some other issues, as the President said. But unless there's movement on the North-South front, there can't be much movement on the U.S. relations with North Korea. And I think that's our view and it's President Kim's as well.
Q Were there any surprises that Kim may have suggested that those relations or that those talks are moving quicker than U.S. thought?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Which talks? I'm sorry.
Q Improving relations between North and South.
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, I think it's still at a tentative stage. Obviously, President Kim is dedicated to trying to improve relations and we support him in those efforts. But so far, the talks have been mostly on the provision of rice and the question remains will that lead to more extensive dialogue. We certainly hope so.
Q In that connection, I think -- I don't know where I read this, but I did read one analyst saying that the South Koreans might be ready to move out some type of a new proposal come, I believe, this fall, in precisely that -- in that type of peace agreement with the North.
MR. ROTH: If so, it was not discussed at this meeting.
Q And any plan for President Clinton to visit South Korea again during this trip that he'll be taking to Osaka?
MR. ROTH: No decisions have been made on the schedule yet surrounding Osaka for any other country but Japan.
MR. ROTH: No decisions on any other countries.
Q How about trade. Can you describe what was discussed in the realm of trade?
MR. ROTH: It was not a trade negotiation, as I think we indicated at the prebrief, and no specific sectors were discussed. Instead they talked about the big picture. More discussion, actually, of investment with President Kim emphasizing it's his desire to see greater American investment in South Korea; the President expressing appreciation that they become one of our sixth largest export market. A general discussion -- of course, we have to keep working through trade problems the way we just did one last week or the week before.
Q Do you do Vietnam? Do you do Vietnam? What do you think of the House denying funds for a Vietnam embassy?
MR. ROTH: Obviously, we would strenuously oppose any legislative effort to restrict the President's authority to carry out the foreign policy of the country, including cutting off funds to open up an embassy. And we are working very hard to try to defeat that legislation.
AMBASSADOR LORD: Let me add to that. Of course, the Senate hasn't passed such, so it's -- right now it has no bite to it. We'll work closely with the Congress, continue to do so. But I want to underscore what Mr. Roth said about our opposition to this move.
And if one is concerned about the families and getting information of missing in action, this does not promote that objective. We believe with an embassy and a fuller staff, we can promote all our objectives and the highest priority -- one of the President's -- namely, getting more information on the missing in action. So this kind of move would cut across our efforts to do that.
Q Mr. Lord, several conservatives have argued that the United States should not send a delegation to the Woman's Conference in China. Can you address their issues? Helms joined that call today. And will the First Lady go?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, I would leave it to the First Lady and to the White House more generally to address that question. It is my understanding no decisions have been made.
On the first question, our press spokesmen have already made the point that Women's Conference is addressing some very important women's and human rights issues. It so happens that it's taking place in China, but it's a United Nations conference. This kind of conference on these kinds of issues only comes once every 10 years, and it's the administration's view that it's important not to lose the opportunity to try to make progress on these issues. So there's every intention of sending an American delegation. That does not mean we condone what is happening in China. Of course, not. And we'll keep addressing that.
Q Doesn't she plan to go, sir? Doesn't Mrs. Hillary plan to go? Isn't Mrs. Clinton planning to go to this meeting? It's so important.
AMBASSADOR LORD: Not decided.
Q It's not decided? For goodness sakes, we've had months to decide on this thing.
MR. PONEMAN: Unless there are any other agreed framework questions, I'm cutting out. But just to follow up, sir, on your one question, you're talking about the North-South. There was general discussion about the processes you heard the two presidents reflect in their public remarks. But it's not something that got into specific -- you know, that kind of level of detail. But they discussed the need for North and South to move together, as Winston Lord has said and as the two presidents said. So I want to make sure --
Q So just general --
MR. PONEMAN: Yes.
Q Mr. McCurry, I wanted to ask you something. Would you ask the President about this? We have had in recent years a general -- in Washington -- and associates, was a private negotiator of North Korea. They went there and had very great conversations with the family and got along well and fine. And then later on when they were having this discussion over nuclear arms to Korea, they were not allowed to go back and have any part in it. And they feel it if this country would work harder on it through the State Department and others, that we would get closer -- that North Korea actually wants to be a better friends. Will you ask the President if he would undertake to study that matter?
MR. MCCURRY: Sarah, thank you for drawing that to my --
Q I can get you the name of the gentleman and his associates who went there before.
MR. MCCURRY: Thank you for drawing that to my attention. If you could provide me some material on it, I will see if the President's got any views on it.
Anything else? Okay. Thank you.
Q Just one quick question. Was there any discussion about China-U.S. relationship in the meeting with Clinton and President Kim?
MR. ROTH: Yes, there was. In fact, President Kim indicated how important it is not just for Korea, but for the entire region that there be a good relationship between the two countries, and was interested in the President's assessment of the relationship and how he views it.
The President indicated -- he made it very clear what we've said publicly on numerous different occasions how firmly we support a one China policy, how that hasn't changed and won't change, and that we are working hard to see what progress we can make in the relationship with China. And he indicated that Foreign Minister Qian Qichen and Secretary Christopher will be meeting next week in Brunei in what we hope will be a meeting that will lead to some progress.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:06 P.M. EDT