News

Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

INDEX
MONDAY, JUNE 8, 1998
Briefer: JAMES P. RUBIN

KOREA (NORTH AND SOUTH)
2, 3South Korea's President Kim Visit & Itinerary / Issues for Discussion, Including North Korea / US Sanctions on North / Secretary's Earlier Visit
2-4Fuel Oil Delivery to North / Agreed Framework / Freeze on Nuclear Program / Adherence to the Framework By All Parties / DAS Kartman Mtg in NY
4MIA Research With North


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 68
MONDAY, JUNE 8, 1998, 12:45 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

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QUESTION: Another area of the world - Korea. President Kim meets President Clinton tomorrow. President Kim has called for easing of sanctions against North Korea. Do you have a response to that?

MR. RUBIN: First of all, let me say that we look forward to welcoming President Kim to Washington, to the White House. He arrived in New York on the 6th, and as I understand it, will arrive in Washington late this afternoon.

He will meet with the President tomorrow morning and will attend a luncheon hosted by the Vice President at the State Department later in the day and a state dinner hosted by the President in the evening. He will address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, and will depart for San Francisco on June 11.

The President and President Kim will review a broad range of issues that bear on our security alliance, as well as issues related to the Korean economic recovery. We work closely with the Republic of Korea on issues relating to North Korea; and our policy towards North Korea, our joint efforts to see peaceful resolution of issues to reduce tensions and will surely be discussed.

With respect to sanctions specifically, as you know, the United States has a series of sanctions in place that are quite stiff on North Korea. We have also said that in the context of implementation of the agreed framework, that we would be moving towards greater bilateral contact and relations with North Korea. Those have been the standing policies of the United States. We certainly will look with interest at what President Kim might have in mind. Secretary Albright had a good chance to exchange views with President Kim when she was in Seoul some weeks ago, and we would expect President Kim and the President to have a really full and thoughtful discussion about the future of the Korean Peninsula, and we will look forward with interest to having that discussion with him.

QUESTION: Can you bring us up to date on the fuel oil issue with regard to North Korea?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. I'm sorry you lost your question, but it happens around the briefing room.

The issue is one where we are working with the Congress and with other interested parties around the world to try to make it possible for the fuel oil to be sent to North Korea, pursuant to the schedule laid out. There was a delivery, I believe last month, and we will be working with Congress and others to make sure the deliveries happen.

But let me be clear - the United States is going to live up to its part of the bargain, and the North Koreans should do nothing to act in any way in contravention with the 1994 agreed framework, which did so much to advance the security of the entire world by freezing their nuclear program in its tracks, getting unprecedented access for the international community's agent in this regard -- the IAEA -- to monitor that program. As far as I've been informed, that monitoring continues and that program is frozen.

But North Korea should know that we are going to fulfill our part of the bargain. We're going to work on ways to do that; we're consulting with Congress and other countries in order to do that. I would expect that issue to come up in discussions with President Kim because the question of the freeze on North Korea's nuclear program is a matter of such importance to the United States, to South Korea and to the region that I would expect it to come up.

QUESTION: When the Secretary was in Seoul, there was some talk about the South Koreans needing some help to carry their share of their obligation under the accord.

MR. RUBIN: That's not exactly the way I recall it. The way I recall it was that we were trying to ensure that South Korea understood the importance of it pursuing the part of the arrangement that envisaged the construction of a light water reactor that is more proliferation-resistant. We worked with them to make sure that, together with the Japanese and other countries, that everyone is in a position to construct that reactor.

In addition, Secretary Albright pointed up the urgency of the problem, noting, as I think it should be evident to all right now, that protection against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- especially nuclear weapons - is the highest priority for the Administration, and should be the highest priority for countries around the world; and obviously wanted to make clear to the people of South Korea the importance of following through on our share of the program and working constructively where problems arise to try to make sure that the North Koreans don't make excuses to not live up to their share of the bargain.

QUESTION: One last one - is there any sign the North Koreans are not living up to their end? I mean, there was this question of pieces of fuel rods around.

MR. RUBIN: As a technical matter, it's my understanding that the IAEA believes the freeze is still in place. As a policy matter, however, we are concerned about some of the rhetoric coming out of North Korea, suggesting that they will be looking for excuses not to follow through with this agreement.

We do not want to see that happen, and we are going to be working to make sure that the North Koreans understand that we are going to do what we need to do to get the heavy fuel oil provided, and they should not be looking for reasons to not follow through with the agreement.

It's my understanding that a meeting did take place on Saturday in New York. On our side it was principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Chuck Kartman who met with his counterpart from North Korea in the context of welcoming President Kim here to the United States.

MR. RUBIN: Met with his North Korean counterpart in the context of going to New York to meet the delegation from South Korea coming to the United States.

QUESTION: Oh, I see, he wasn't talking about greeting President Kim with the North Koreans.

MR. RUBIN: No, no, no. I was merely pointing out that he was in New York for that reason, and took that opportunity to meet with his counterpart.

QUESTION: Kosovo?

MR. RUBIN: Okay - there might be - same on South Korea? Yes.

QUESTION: There has been coverage of a joint MIA research with North Korea. Can you give us any understanding of --

MR. RUBIN: Yes, let me get you some material for the record on that, immediately after the briefing?

QUESTION: Right, do you know that North Korea demanded to postpone their joint research?

MR. RUBIN: We have been trying to work with the North Koreans, and consider it a high priority to get them to provide as much access as possible to allow for the finding of the remains from missing in action servicemen. We consider that a high priority.

But as far as the current state of play in that discussion, which tends to be between the Pentagon and its counterparts, let me get you some information for the record.

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(The briefing concluded at 1:40 P.M.)

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