THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
For several years, we have been working with our East Asian allies to improve relations with North Korea in a way that strengthens peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. We have made substantial progress, including the 1994 Agreed Framework, which froze North Korea's production of plutonium for nuclear weapons under ongoing international inspections, and the 1999 moratorium on long-range missile tests. I believe new opportunities are opening for progress toward greater stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula. However, I have determined that there is not enough time while I am President to prepare the way for an agreement with North Korea that advances our national interest and provides the basis for a trip by me to Pyongyang. Let me emphasize that I believe this process of engagement with North Korea, in coordination with South Korea and Japan, holds great promise and that the United States should continue to build on the progress we have made.
Our policy toward North Korea has been based on a strong framework developed at my request by former Secretary of Defense William Perry and carried out by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Special Advisor Wendy Sherman. We have coordinated each step forward with our allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan. The engagement policy of President Kim Dae Jung and his personal leadership have spurred this process and earned the world's admiration. Taken together, our efforts have reduced tensions on the Korean Peninsula, improved prospects for enduring peace and stability in the region, and opened an opportunity to substantially reduce, if not eliminate, the threat posed by North Korean missile development and exports.
This past October, when DPRK Chairman Kim Jong Il invited me to visit his country, and later when Secretary Albright traveled to Pyongyang, Chairman Kim put forward a serious proposal concerning his missile program. Since then, we have discussed with North Korea proposals to eliminate its missile export program as well as to halt further missile development. While there is insufficient time for me to complete the work at hand, there is sufficient promise to continue this effort. The United States has a clear national interest in seeing it through.