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USIS Washington 
File

10 December 1997

TRANSCRIPT: ROTH STATEMENT, BRIEFING ON KOREA FOUR-PARTY TALKS

(Negotiating process successfully inaugurated)  (980)



Geneva -- Participants in the Four Party Peace Talks, meeting for the
first time in plenary session in Geneva December 9-10, successfully
inaugurated the negotiating process to achieve a permanent peace on
the Korean Peninsula, according to the session's chairman, Assistant
Secretary of State Stanley Roth.


"This is the first meeting of a major international peace conference,"
Roth said during a December 10 press conference. "What took place was
the statement of opening positions by each delegation -- something
which takes place normally at every major negotiation -- in which each
side expressed its views. And I would say this is what happened for
each of us."


Following is a transcript of the briefing, including the text of
Roth's statement:


(begin transcript)



Press Event on the

FOUR PARTY TALKS



CICG Building - Geneva

December 10, 1997





SPOKESMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce the
chairman of this round of the plenary talks, Assistant Secretary of
State Stanley O. Roth, who will read a joint statement. He will then
take five questions. Please direct all questions to the chairman, Mr.
Roth. Thank you.


For those of you who aren't familiar with this facility, you'll see a
small pyramid in front of you. When you ask your question, please push
the small button. That will turn the microphone on.


Copies of the statement will be available at the end of this press
event.


ASSISTANT SECRETARY ROTH: On behalf of the four parties, I'd like to
make the following statement on behalf of all four delegations.


(begin Chairman's statement)



Participants in the Four Party Peace Talks, meeting for the first time
in plenary session in Geneva, Switzerland, on December 9 and 10, 1997,
successfully inaugurated the negotiating process to achieve a
permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.


Talks proceeded in a cordial and productive atmosphere, and the four
delegations agreed on the following decisions:


1. As a result of a random draw conducted by the Chair, the order of
subsequent Chairs was determined to be:


The People's Republic of China

The ROK

The DPRK

The United States



2. The next plenary session will convene beginning March 16 in Geneva.


3. The Chair of the first plenary will organize before the second
plenary session an ad hoc subcommittee for intersessional
consultations in mid-February in Beijing.


4. Intersessional consultations will consider arrangements for
organizing the work of the second plenary session, and will provide
recommendations for consideration at that session.


All four delegations wish to express their appreciation to the Swiss
Government for its support for this meeting.


Thank you.



(end Chairman's statement)



(begin Q&A)



Q: How long will the session in Geneva last on March 16?



ASSISTANT SECRETARY ROTH: The question was how long will the session
in Geneva last on March 16. There is some flexibility on this point,
but I would expect the session to go for a matter of some days.


Q: Are there any plans for the enlargement of the format of the talks,
to include also Japan and Russia?


ASSISTANT SECRETARY ROTH: No, this was not discussed at the meeting.



Q: I want to ask whether they agreed to establish any subcommittees in
the four party talks? And whether there was the issue of food aid to
North Korea discussed or not?


ASSISTANT SECRETARY ROTH: I believe the statement addresses the
question (on subcommittees) which you have asked, that there was an
agreement to establish, to hold, an intersessional meeting before the
next plenary session.


Q: Can you tell me specifically what was discussed and proposed and
rejected about troop withdrawal, American troops?


ASSISTANT SECRETARY ROTH: I think the best way to describe this is to
describe the process in general. This is the first meeting of a major
international peace conference. What took place was the statement of
opening positions by each delegation -- something which takes place
normally at every major negotiation -- in which each side expressed
its views. And I would say this is what happened for each of us.


The North Koreans made their positions clear, and I will leave it to
them to explain their own positions at the conference. They are free
to hold their own event if they so choose. But the point I would want
to make is that this was not a debate. This was not a contentious
meeting. This was an initial meeting. A lot of time was spent simply
for an initial expression of views, then discussing how we organize in
order to prepare for the future meetings, at which time much more
attention will be focused on the specific issues.


Q: Is your goal, for example, the year 2000? Was this discussed? Was
there any expression of views on the time frame for completion of a
peace mechanism?


ASSISTANT SECRETARY ROTH: There certainly was no discussion of a
specific date. I would say that the talks were characterized by a
sense of pragmatism and realism. There's a recognition that the issues
are complicated, and that the discussions will be somewhat lengthy in
order to try to resolve them. But no one attempted to fix an arbitrary
deadline for the conclusion of the talks.


Q: Would you think that would be desirable to set yourselves a goal?
Previous Korean efforts -- for example, the armistice ran to two
years, other negotiating efforts prior to that have run to several
years in length.


ASSISTANT SECRETARY ROTH: I see no benefit at this time in setting an
arbitrary deadline.


SPOKESMAN: Due to time constraints, we will have to end the press
event at this time. Thank you for your patience. As I said, copies of
the statement will be available in this room. Thank you.


(end Q&A)



(end transcript)