THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 16, 2000 BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ON THE PRESIDENT'S MEETING WITH GENERAL WONG, THE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT KIM DAE JUNG OF SOUTH KOREA
2:25 P.M. EDT
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: (in progress) - warmth of the reception that President Kim Dae Jung received, and that one point, General Wong remarked that this really showed the kind of respect for an elder that they really appreciated, since President Kim Dae Jung is considerably older than President Kim Jong Il.
He went through what you all know, which is the elements of the agreement that they reached, that's been published, the various pieces of that. There's nothing substantively new about that. General Wong reaffirmed that in the course of the discussions, President Kim Dae Jung did raise concerns about their nuclear missile program, described it as a common objective of the United States and South Korea to try to find a way to reduce the tensions that were associated with the possibility of the development of nuclear missiles programs.
President Kim Dae Jung stressed that he believed that the U.S. role was a positive one in terms of helping manage stability on the Peninsula, and creating a context for reconciliation and reunification between North and South. And he went through the details of the agreement both in terms of bringing together separated families, which they hope to happen by August 15th; on economic cooperation and other exchanges. The impression was that there were not a lot of specifics that were discussed there, but that they did agree to further talks at the ministerial level to flesh out how to implement that cooperation. And they also talked about how President Kim Jong Il agreed to make a visit to Seoul, although no specific time was established on that.
I think that one of the impressions that General Wong conveyed was that in both the substance and the style, that they saw this as a sign of a beginning of an "opening up" - is the word that he used. General Wong indicated that they found Kim Jong Il to be a very smart and a very engaging person.
At the end of that, the President responded briefly. He said he found the account fascinating; he found it on balance to be hopeful; and agreed that it was important that the United States and South Korea, along with Japan and our other friends, consult closely on next steps. And General Wong then came back again and said that he wanted to convey a message from Kim Dae Jung to President Clinton that Kim Dae Jung believed that the U.S. role had been an important one in helping to bring about the summit, and he was grateful for the support that the United States had provided - and also the trilateral cooperation. He said "the bilateral cooperation between the United States and South Korea, and the trilateral cooperation with Japan helped bring the summit about," and that our strategy is correct and that we need to continue to pursue it.
Q You said next steps. What sort of options are being considered as next steps?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATON OFFICIAL: I think this is something - we're just now getting the reports, and I think it would have been premature to try to decide how we're going to respond to this until we had the benefit of this. I think the President feels very appreciative of President Kim for giving us such a good feel for what's going on. We obviously are going to spend some time ourselves thinking about the implications of this and want to consult both with the South Koreans and the Japanese about how to take this forward.
Q I apologize for missing the top of this - was there any discussion about the need for missile defense and - North Korea security threats?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They have not told us that there was any discussion about missile defense, so I don't - I have no reason to think that that came up. As I said, President Kim Dae Jung did bring up the concern about the possibility or the threat of development of either nuclear or missile programs, and stressed that he thought that they were destabilizing and that, to the extent that the North Koreans were interested in developing an environment for reconciliation or reunification, that they need to stay away from that, because that was contrary to the general atmosphere that the two were trying to create with the summit.
Q -- any response from the North Korean leader to -
SENIIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Nothing specific.
Q When you gave us the quote, in his words, opening up - who was that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This was the South Koreans' impression of - that they took away from this, as a sign of opening up, a first step.
Q Did they discuss sanctions?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Again, what I said this morning is also true; as far as I know, there was no discussion of sanctions.
Q But with those two, with Wong and -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No.
Q Does Clinton have any future plans regarding this issue?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: On the sanctions issue or the -
Q No, just -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Again, now that we've got the readout, we've had two firsthand accounts, I think we're obviously going to go back ourselves - Secretary Albright is going to be meeting with General Wong further this afternoon, so we'll have a little bit more opportunity to engage with them, and then we'll take a few days to try to understand ourselves about this and try to find a forum or ways to get together with both the South Koreans and the Japanese to figure out what we want to do next.
Q You say General - do you know what his official title is?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He's the National Security Advisor. But he's a retire - I think he's retired.
Q Will - today with foreign policy people?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. He or the President? No, the President is done with the foreign policy people, and we're going back to Washington.
Q One more question. General Wong indicated the two leaders talked about U.S. troops -
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As I said - what I said earlier was that President Kim stressed the stabilizing role that he believed that the U.S. forces played on the Peninsula.
Okay, got to go.
END 2:35 P.M. EDT