THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Tokyo, Japan) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 8, 2000
READOUT TO THE POOL FOLLOWING THE PRESIDENT'S MEETING WITH REPUBLIC OF KOREA PRESIDENT KIM DAE-JUNG The Okura Hotel Tokyo, Japan
5:53 P.M. (L)
MR. CROWLEY: The two Presidents met for about 25 minutes in the Presidential Suite upstairs. There were five on each side, in terms of the delegation size. It was a very good meeting. I think for the camera people that -- I think the camera people may have noticed that the two Presidents sat down and immediately started talking. So they are obviously two leaders who are very, very comfortable together. And they had a very warm exchange.
President Kim said to President Clinton that he hoped that this would be a turning point in terms of relations between North and South. I think it's important to remember -- you know, normally the phrase "historic" can be overused. But this is the first head of state meeting in 50 years, and I think it can truly be described as historic.
The President pledged that as this process goes forward, the United States will do all that it can to help. President Kim commended the very close trilateral consultation that has existed among Japan, the United States and South Korea. And President Kim thought that this was particularly helpful in creating this historic moment.
They were together for about 25 minutes. President Kim, while he does understand English, used a translator throughout. But let me stop and quickly answer a couple questions.
Q P.J., I think the Japanese papers are reporting in their evening editions that the U.S. will definitely announce, following the summit, that it plans to implement an easing of sanctions against North Korea in return for North Korea suspending its missile launches. What can you say to that?
MR. CROWLEY: We announced -- you know, the President announced last September that in principle we would work on easing of sanctions. We've had a process in place to work through issues related to that. And I would expect that we would have an announcement on that very soon.
Q Do you know, P.J., did the President specifically raise any concerns about the nuclear and missile issues being a subject for discussion at the North-South summit?
MR. CROWLEY: Chris, we have a very close relationship in terms of the consultative process. I think there's a very consistent view held between the United States and South Korea on issues that are important to us. And I think that President Kim has a clear understanding of those issues as he heads to the summit.
Q But were they specifically discussed --
MR. CROWLEY: I'm sure that -- I actually can't tell you if they were specifically discussed. I think it's safe to say, from President Kim on down, he has an understanding of issues of importance to the United States that are related to what happens on the Korean Peninsula.
Q P.J., did you try to arrange a three-way meeting among the three leaders today?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
Q Why not?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, Prime Minister Mori has his hands full serving as host for the leaders that are here. I don't remember that it was envisioned, primarily because of Prime Minister Mori's hectic schedule today.
Q Can you give us an idea of what sanctions might be on the table for dropping in a subsequent round?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
Q When you say you're going to have an announcement soon, are you planning to announce easing the sanctions prior to the North-South summit? Just after the summit? Any kind of timetable?
MR. CROWLEY: I'm not going to get into a timetable.
Q P.J., did Kim Dae-Jung mention to the President about what he's hoping that will come out of this summit? And what would you think next steps would be after this summit?
MR. CROWLEY: I think that what President Kim hopes for, and I think we share that view, is, coming out of this there will be a process to work through and try to make progress towards reconciliation between North and South. I think it's safe to say that decades of conflict are not going to melt away in one meeting. But if coming out of this there is a process that helps build a dialogue between North and South, that in itself can have a tremendous effect in easing tensions in the Korean Peninsula.
We've thought for some time that at the heart of making progress in terms of peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, at the heart of that was the need for a North-South dialogue. So we are very pleased that we are on the verge of an historic summit. And we certainly hope that this can lead to a process that will allow North and South Korea to work through various issues and move towards reconciliation.
Q This announcement isn't contingent on substantial progress at the summit?
MR. CROWLEY: No.
Q A question about some military issues. If Kim Chong-il raises the issue of the U.S. military presence in South Korea, how does Kim Dae-Jung should respond to this issue? Do you have any coordination with this issue, specifically military presence or confidence-building measures, or some steps to lead to U.S. redeployment, or some military presence?
MR. CROWLEY: President Kim did mention that in his view the presence of U.S. forces in Korea is crucial to the long-term stability within the region. And he indicated that he has already communicated to the North that in his view there should be no change in the U.S. troop presence.
Q I want to make sure whether both leaders talked about the specific relationship between the U.S., North Korea and Japan -- for example, including missing people from Japan into North Korea?
MR. CROWLEY: I don't know that that was specifically discussed.
Q Was there any talk about the fact that Kim Chong-il has been seen in Beijing?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we view that as a positive step. I think that obviously for Kim Chong-il to make a trip to China -- it's been reported that it's his first in 17 years -- is indicative of his interest in changing North Korea's approach to other countries in the region. And we consider that a positive.
Q Did both of the leaders feel that there has been a transformation in terms of North Korea's contact with the outside world? Do they kind of talk about positive trends?
MR. CROWLEY: I think we view North Korea's engagements with various countries in the region in a very positive light Clearly Japan has reopened its dialogue with North Korea. Our dealings with North Korea in recent months have been very constructive. Obviously we have facing us an historic North-South summit. So I think we are encouraged by the way that North Korea is adjusting and approaching these issues in a different way than they have in the past.
Q Is the President --
MR. CROWLEY: I've got to go pretty quickly.
Q Is the President concerned that South Korea could go too fast, too far, in improving their relations with North Korea --
MR. CROWLEY: I can only repeat what I said earlier, which is, we've always felt that the heart of easing tensions and working towards peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, at that heart of that would be a be a need for North-South dialogue. We are all very hopeful that this summit will go well. And so we enthusiastically have supported President Kim in his sunshine policy. President Kim said during the meeting that we'll still need patience. This is just a first step. He hopes it is a turning point, but there is obviously a great deal of work ahead as we work through this process of reconciliation. But we are all hopeful that this will be the turning point that President Kim hopes it will be.
Q P.J., one more on the -- the President just had the trip to Russia, and to Europe. And It was kind of a tough trip for the national missile defense. Did he bring up NMD or TMD at all with Mori this afternoon? Or whisk him and ask for their support on this? How did that go?
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge. I don't think that national missile defense came up.
Q I just want to be clear, as far as what President Kim said to the President, what did he say were his expectations for this --
MR. CROWLEY: He hoped that this summit would be a turning point in the relations between North and South Korea.
Q He used the word "turning point"?
MR. CROWLEY: His phrase was "turning point," yes.
Q I'm sorry, President Clinton's phrase?
A No, President Kim's phrase. He described this as he hoped this would be a turning point in the relations between North and South.
THE PRESS: Thank you very much.
END 6:03 P.M. (L)