WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 1998
Briefer: JAMES B. FOLEY
Third Plenary Meeting of the Four-Party Talks in Geneva 10/21
US-DPRK Missile Talks Begin Tomorrow in New York
Doctors Without Borders Withdrawing from North Korea
Status of World Food Program/Monitoring/US Contribution
North Korean Export of Missile Technology
Reported Diversion of Food Aid
US-DPRK Meeting on Terrorism
Funding for Heavy Fuel Oil /Status of Delivery/Shortfall
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFF-CAMERA DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 110
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 1998 1:00 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
And finally, I would like to announce - and I think it's been reported elsewhere - that a four-party working-level group, as you know, met in New York last Friday to discuss arrangements for the third plenary meeting of the four-party talks. As a result of that meeting, the United States, China, South Korea and North Korea have agreed to convene the plenary meeting in Geneva beginning October 21.
In accordance with the established rotation, South Korea will be chairing this third plenary meeting. The goals of the United States in the four-party talks remain, number one, the reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula; and two, replacing the armistice by the achievement of a permanent peace agreement.
As in the past, the Swiss Government is providing facilitative assistance for the talks and we are grateful to the Swiss Government for its support..............
QUESTION: The missile talks with the North Koreans that start tomorrow - they're definitely starting tomorrow?
MR. FOLEY: Yes, they are.
QUESTION: And what can you say about what you're trying to achieve - I mean, I know in the long term what you're trying to achieve, but tomorrow. Is it just a one-day meeting or are you going to be meeting for a couple of days?
MR. FOLEY: I believe it's a two-day meeting, and its possible that some of our officials may be in a position, to some degree, to comment in New York, following those talks.
QUESTION: Are the talks in New York?
MR. FOLEY: I believe they are in New York, yes.
The US delegation will be led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Robert Einhorn; the head of the North Korean delegation will be Mr. Han Chang On, who is Director General, Department of US Affairs in the North Korean Foreign Ministry.
This round of talks is a follow-up to the April '96 and June '97 talks in which the two sides discussed missile proliferation issues. As you know, the United States has very serious concerns about North Korea's indigenous missile activities and exports, including the attempt in August to use a Taepo Dong I missile to orbit a very small satellite.
As we've said before, that launch represents another step forward in the DPRK's missile development program, and is a matter of great concern to the US because of its destabilizing impact in the region. We certainly plan to raise these concerns at that meeting.
Beyond our specific concerns about their missile programs, the capabilities of those programs, the danger of export, it's also a fact that addressing our missile concerns is also linked - is a key part of what the DPRK must do to realize an improvement in our bilateral political and economic relations.
QUESTION: Have you seen the statement by Doctors Without Borders that they're pulling out of North Korea because they can't guarantee that the food is going to --
MR. FOLEY: Yes, I've seen that.
QUESTION: Is this giving the US Government any pause in its decisions to send this extra 300,000 tons of wheat?
MR. FOLEY: No, it doesn't. I'm not going to second-guess the decision that they felt that they had to make. It's true their assistance - Doctors Without Borders - has eased the suffering of many thousands of North Korean children. It's unfortunate that they are going to be pulling out. We agree with them fully that food and other humanitarian assistance should be distributed to those most in need, and we are disturbed by reports that access was denied to the Doctors Without Borders professionals.
We call on North Korean officials to remedy the access problem immediately so that this group can resume its activities. But under our arrangement, as you know, we send all of our food assistance to North Korea through the World Food Program. Under our arrangement with the World Food Program, monitoring of food assistance is required. It's required so that we can be sure, for moral and ethical reasons, and that we can be sure vis-à-vis our taxpayers, that the assistance is going to those in need. This is humanitarian assistance. We've always refused to link this humanitarian assistance to any political considerations; it's based on need.
No US aid is distributed if it cannot be monitored. The World Food Program and the US Private Volunteer Organization consortium monitor the distribution of US food aid in the DPRK. No significant diversion of US Government assistance has been detected. With the recent announcement that you refer to of an additional 300,000 metric tons of food that the US plans to contribute, the number of monitors also will increase.
A nutritional survey is now underway and an FAO World Food Program crop survey is scheduled after the current harvest. The current situation is far from ideal, but we believe it's allowed our assistance to reach those for whom it is intended.
QUESTION: Two questions on North Korea - you said the number of monitors is going to increase. Do you have --
MR. FOLEY: I don't have specific numbers on that. Over the summertime, there were three congressional staffers who went to North Korea. They issued a report, and they concluded that the international food aid is clearly saving lives in North Korea. They stated that food assistance is feeding nearly every child under the age of seven. Most US Government assistance is directed to children 12 years and under.
As I said, it's less than ideal, the situation. We'd like to see greater openness regarding the food situation, regarding access. The congressional staffers noted that there are more than 30 food aid monitors in North Korea. They spend most of their time in the field. While the access and tempo of operations conducted by the monitors is improving, they're still prevented from conducting unscheduled, unsupervised visits. So there are problems in this area, and we'd like to see the number, for example, of Korean-speaking monitors increased. We made clear to the North Koreans the importance of this matter.
I won't bore you, George, with recitation of how we've gone through this issue. We had a visit last October of US food needs assessment team, and in the last year we have succeeded in getting the number of monitors increased. And as I said, with the additional food aid we'll be giving, there will be an increase of monitors. If I can get a figure for you at some point, I'll do that.
QUESTION: All right. The second question, also on North Korea, could you bore me with more details on to whom or to which countries North Korea has been exporting missiles and missile technology? You haven't talked about that in a long time.
MR. FOLEY: I'll get you that for the record.
QUESTION: Last week in Congress, Congressman Chris Cox said that US food aid had been found on North Korean submarines that had been on commando missions in South Korean waters.
MR. FOLEY: First, I'm not aware that he said that. Second, I'm not aware that the report is something that we've confirmed. I won't repeat everything that I just said; but this is a very important matter. We believe that the food aid we give is justified, because there are many millions of people in need in North Korea, through no fault of their own. We believe that our assistance is going to the people in need, and we believe that our assistance is monitored.
I was careful in how I characterized the breadth of monitoring. I believe I - if you give me one second, I will find the reference. But no significant diversion is the key sentence. In other words, when you're giving many hundreds of thousands of metric tons of food assistance, you cannot rule out that a small quantity here and there might end up somewhere where it wasn't intended to go. You just can't humanly and mathematically rule that out.
We're very confident, though, and we wouldn't be continuing to pursue this program if we didn't believe that it was going to the people in need and that it was being adequately monitored.
QUESTION: What is the result of the US-North Korea terrorist meeting last Monday?
MR. FOLEY: Yes, it was a meeting held mostly for informational purposes, if I can put it that way. In other words, we sat down with the North Koreans; we explained our Patterns of Global Terrorism report; we explained what our information was, what our concerns were and what we strongly believe the North Koreans need to do in order to be removed from that list. So they took that information on board.
I don't have a more precise read-out of their reaction, what may happen next. But it was an important opportunity for us to explain to them what they need to do in terms of changing their practice in that area.
QUESTION: Jim, has there been any change in the status of money for the oil that we owe them under the KEDO agreement?
MR. FOLEY: I understand there's been an announcement, I think at the White House, on this. The White House apparently announced a Presidential Determination under 614(a) authority to fund a US contribution to KEDO for the purchase of heavy fuel oil for delivery to the DPRK. It's a provision of an additional $15 million which allows the US to continue to fulfill its commitment to deliver heavy fuel oil to the North Koreans.
We continue to believe very strongly that it's important to go forward with implementation of the agreed framework and it is essential in this regard for the US to live up to its commitments just as we demand, obviously, that North Korea fulfill all of its own obligations under the agreed framework.
QUESTION: Is that money that Congress gave or was this coming from another pot?
MR. FOLEY: Again, this is - the President has under Section 614(a) authority to make this determination. I'd have to take the questions if you want to press me further on those specifics of the - of that presidential authority.
QUESTION: Is this - does this take care of all the money - of all the fuel oil you owe them this year?
MR. FOLEY: I think it's something that we still are working on. So far, KEDO has delivered 216,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil to North Korea. We're committed to - under the agreed framework, KEDO is to provide 500,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil to North Korea each year.
For this year, Congress agreed to the Administration's request to appropriate $30 million for KEDO funding. A contribution from the EU of about $60 million is expected to be received by KEDO shortly to help KEDO retire its debt for past oil purchases. Additional contributions for heavy fuel oil shipments have been received, including from Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Singapore and Finland. As you know, we've been working very hard to help KEDO raise additional funds from other countries, but KEDO so far has not raised sufficient funds for its heavy fuel oil deliveries this year.
The US remains committed to the successful implementation of the agreed framework. As the President stated on June 9 of this year, he is prepared to work with Congress to utilize certain provisions of law - US law - to provide funds to help KEDO fulfill its commitments. It is in that sense that this action was taken by the White House.
QUESTION: What's the short fall ? Now the US has given this $15 million - what's the bottom line short fall ?
MR. FOLEY: There's probably a simple answer to how much $15 million buys you. I think it purchases about 150,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil. So that gets us closer to the goal and indeed to our commitment to see that KEDO is providing 500,000 metric tons per year. So we're getting there and we're committed to meeting our commitment and reaching the goal by the end of the year.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) you're sure about 140,000?
MR. FOLEY: If you do the math, but again, there are other possible offers in the pipeline. There is still a short fall - I can't give you the magnitude right now.
QUESTION: Do you have any targeting date when you guys - (inaudible)
MR. FOLEY: I don't have a targeting date for you today, but obviously we want to meet the 500,000 metric ton commitment by the end of the year. That's what we're pledged to do.
QUESTION: Do you have a date when the President signed this waiver?
MR. FOLEY: I don't.
QUESTION: You don't?
MR. FOLEY: No.
QUESTION: This week or last week?
MR. FOLEY: I believe it was this week - do we have that?
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: Just one more on this terrorism meeting, do you have a commitment for another follow-up meeting or was that a one-shot deal?
MR. FOLEY: I'll have to check on that for you...........
(The briefing concluded at 2:45 P.M.)