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U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

INDEX
THURSDAY, JULY 1, 1999
Briefer: JAMES B. FOLEY

ROK
2-8President Kim Visit / Bilateral Meeting With POTUS / Efforts to Deal With DPRK / Missile Activities / US Technological Support to ROK's Short Range Missile Capabilities / US Nonproliferation Objectives / DPRK Missile Program / Secretary of Defense Perry in Pyongyang / "Serious Consequences" / Detained American Citizen in DPRK / Fishing Boats Dispute / General Officer Talks


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB #84
THURSDAY, JULY 1, 1999, 1:20 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

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QUESTION: President Kim of South Korea is due here tomorrow to see the President. Do you have anything on his visit?

MR. FOLEY: Yes. President Kim, as you say, arrives in Washington tomorrow morning for a one-day working visit. President Clinton is going to host a lunch for President Kim. It will be followed by a bilateral meeting. I'd refer you to the White House for details on the schedule.

The two leaders will review our combined efforts to deal with the DPRK in ways that will eventually produce a peaceful Korean Peninsula. These efforts include President Kim's engagement policy, our shared commitments to the agreed framework and to the Four Party Talks. President Kim's visit comes at a time when the economic achievements of his leadership are more and more evident; and no doubt, these accomplishments will also be a focus of their discussion. Again, I refer you to the White House on the details of their discussions.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. FOLEY: Beyond that, no; I'd refer you to the White House.

QUESTION: How concerned is the United States about South Korea's own missile programs?

MR. FOLEY: In the context of our close bilateral relationship with the Republic of Korea, we regularly consult on the best means of ensuring adequate deterrent capabilities on the Peninsula. In this connection, we share the South Korean Government's concerns about the threat posed by the DPRK's missile activities.

In our bilateral discussions, we have stressed that we will cooperate with the South Korean Government to ensure adequate South Korean defense and deterrent capabilities while continuing to promote our regional and global non-proliferation objectives.

QUESTION: Do you think its legitimate, though, that South Korea has its own missile program?

MR. FOLEY: As a matter of fact, the United States has long provided technological support to South Korea's short-range missile capabilities. So we certainly recognize the legitimacy of their concerns about North Korea's missile activities and, indeed, the legitimacy of their self-defense and deterrent efforts. And we do have an interest in making sure that the South Koreans have an effective deterrent capability. So we are, obviously, sympathetic to their defense needs; we cooperate with them on their defense needs but we want to ensure that those capabilities are also in conformity with our regional and global non-proliferation objectives.

QUESTION: If I can just do one more - in line with this cooperation on short range missiles, though, is the United States inclined to agree to cooperate with South Korea in developing a slightly longer range missile?

MR. FOLEY: I can't get into the details of our cooperation; that's not something I can discuss in a public forum. But as I noted a minute ago, we support the short-range capabilities and we cooperate on that. But I can't get into the precise details of that cooperation.

QUESTION: Could I follow up on that - are you on it, too?

QUESTION: I'm on it, too.

QUESTION: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have any evidence that the North Koreans are preparing a missile test launch; and if so, what would your reaction be?

MR. FOLEY: Certainly, we have made it clear for quite some time that the United States views the North Korean missile program as a serious threat to the region and to our non-proliferation interests. We continue to press North Korea to cease all production, deployment, testing and export of missiles and missile technology and we continue to consult very closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies on the full range of North Korean issues.

We've repeatedly made clear to Pyongyang that any further missile tests would have serious consequences for our relations with North Korea, with direct implications for the prospects of moving forward with improved relations, as discussed when former Secretary of Defense Perry was in Pyongyang recently.

QUESTION: If I can be more specific - In which area of relations there might be damage done in the event of another missile test?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not in a position from a public forum to spell out the details of the specifics of what the negative consequences would be. In diplomatic parlance, when a government talks about serious consequences, that has a significant meaning without necessarily having to flesh it out. I think what I said, though, can lead you in one direction in the sense that Secretary Perry's efforts, in his review, to lay out a vision of a different and qualitatively better relationship between North Korea and the United States and our allies and the international community could be negatively affected by further missile tests. We've made clear that any further missile tests would not help stability on the Korean Peninsula and, again, will have serious consequences in our bilateral relationship.

QUESTION: Just to finish on the first question - do you have any evidence that the North Koreans are preparing a missile test?

MR. FOLEY: Well, we've been concerned for a long time about their missile program; also about following their previous test in August of last year - the possibility that they might conduct a second test. I can't go into, obviously, our intelligence on the issue, but this is a long-standing concern. I think what's important is that we make it crystal clear that there will be serious consequences if they proceed to another test. But I can't get into the intelligence behind our assessments.

QUESTION: Look, consequences - speaking of consequences, they're very tense folks on both sides of the DMZ. Anybody who's been there is told, for instance, don't scratch your nose suddenly; it might set off an attack. It's rather dramatic but probably there's some basis and truth to it. Considering what North Korea might be up to, do you think it's provocative of South Korea to develop new missiles? Do you think it increases tension on the Peninsula, or are you happy to see it? And if you're happy to see it, you said nothing about the US maintaining any controls over South Korean weapons. I mean, that's an area where the American troops probably will never go home -- they've been there for only 50 years now. So you're sort of the - the US is sort of the guardians of South Korea. With that, committing our troops and our bodies there, do you have anything to say about making sure they don't do something that touches off a problem, or is perceived in the North as provocative?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I choose, in any event, to interpret your question as basically an echo of Carole's detail question.

QUESTION: Look, you never spoke to Carole about US restraints; you spoke about how we want the South Koreans to be tough and defend themselves. But here, Dave is asking about the North Koreans doing provocative things and the way those two parts of the Peninsula react to each other. It doesn't take much - it's like India and Pakistan - to get something going. And I'm surprised that you haven't said anything about the need for restraint - the US restraint on South Korea.

MR. FOLEY: I actually did address the question.

QUESTION: I guess I didn't hear it.

MR. FOLEY: And you've sat here longer than probably anyone else in this room -

QUESTION: It's not a matter of how long you're here, it's a matter of how you deal with --

MR. FOLEY: So you know how to read the State Department tea leaves.

QUESTION: -with a sort of a tense ally.

MR. FOLEY: Let me repeat what I said. In our bilateral discussions with South Korea, we have stressed that we will cooperate with the South Korean government to ensure adequate South Korean defense and deterrent capabilities - and I explained in some detail to Carol what that meant - while continuing to promote our regional and global non-proliferation objectives.

QUESTION: It doesn't tell me whether the United States is applying restraints on South Korea's weapons program. It tells me in a general sense you don't like to see a lot of proliferation going on, but I'm wondering if you have a restraining hand on the nervous shoulder.

MR. FOLEY: We discuss - we're allies with South Korea. We share a common perspective. As I told Carole, we support their defense requirements; we cooperate on their defense requirements. We also have regional and global non-proliferation objectives, and obviously, those objectives play a role in our bilateral relationship with South Korea.

QUESTION: So you're not saying whether the United States maintains any restraint on their programs?

MR. FOLEY: We seek in our relationship with South Korea, as with other governments around the world, to promote our non-proliferation objectives.

QUESTION: Does that mean you don't like them proliferating, or you're neutral on it? If you have proliferation objectives, then is your answer to Carole, we're not happy they're developing a new missile; or is your answer to Carole, we don't think the development of a new missile is a step toward proliferation?

MR. FOLEY: I think I've said all that I'm going to say on that subject.

QUESTION: But you're speaking - you're giving us kind of boilerplate. I'm asking you and Carole tried to and Dave brought up the North Korean issue, whether the United States is doing anything to maintain some restraining controls over South Korea while you're, of course, committed to jointly make sure that the South Koreans are well fixed to deal with any actions from the North.

MR. FOLEY: And I told Carole that we cooperate on their short-range ballistic missile programs and that we support their defense efforts, and we have non-proliferation objectives in that region or around the world that we pursue with them.

QUESTION: Is there anything new on the American woman who was arrested in North Korea?

MR. FOLEY: My information is that our protecting power, Sweden, has still not yet been granted consular access to the detained American citizen in North Korea. We continue to remain optimistic that the DPRK will abide by its international commitments and grant consular access to a detained American citizen. We don't have a Privacy Act release from the individual, so I can't provide additional details. But we believe there will be consular access, through Sweden, granted; at least, we don't have reason to believe that it won't be granted.

QUESTION: Right, but in terms of exactly why she was arrested, I mean, is that something that's covered by the Privacy Act?

MR. FOLEY: I believe it is; I certainly don't have that information before me, though, so I can't help you with that.

QUESTION: The timing --

MR. FOLEY: About the timing? I'm sorry --

QUESTION: When she was arrested and where.

MR. FOLEY: She was arrested on June 17. There was notification given by the North Koreans to the Swedes on June 22. And I believe it was the next day or the day after, the Swedes requested consular access.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: How concerned, if at all, are you about the walk out of the North Koreans in the talks with the South Koreans in Beijing?

MR. FOLEY: I've not heard that. Was that a wire report this morning?

QUESTION: I think it's more than a wire report.

MR. FOLEY: What do you mean more than a wire report?

QUESTION: Well, I mean, often times from this podium the words "wire report" tend to --

QUESTION: You have to see it in the newspaper. I mean, it's a fact. Sometimes the wires report facts, you know?

MR. FOLEY: What I'm trying to say, Barry, is --

QUESTION: I know what you're trying to say. (Inaudible) - the US Government --

MR. FOLEY: I normally rely on the Associated Press.

QUESTION: You can rely on Reuters and AFP, if you like.

MR. FOLEY: (Inaudible) - your rival.

QUESTION: You sounded like you were dubious because it was only a wire report.

MR. FOLEY: No, I'm saying I haven't seen the report.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. FOLEY: Barry, you're in rare form today.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, I mean, doesn't the US have it's own reporting mechanism? Do you have to see the --

MR. FOLEY: Did the timing effect - I take it you haven't had lunch yet.

QUESTION: I had lunch. Do you have to see the AP report to know if there were -

QUESTION: There was a meeting on reuniting families, and the North Koreans walked out demanding an apology from the South over this Yellow Sea incident at which the South refused to do. Anyway --

MR. FOLEY: So you mean the latest incursion that occurred?

QUESTION: Yes. The North Koreans are demanding an apology. Anyway, that's for your and the State Department's information from the - (inaudible) - offices.

MR. FOLEY: Okay. You still haven't told me which wire that was, although Barry said it was an AP --

QUESTION: No, it's AFP/Reuters --

MR. FOLEY: No, I haven't seen the report, but the fact of the matter is that we welcomed -

QUESTION: I think the Vietnam news agencies got this one.

MR. FOLEY: Go on, yes.

QUESTION: Korea again --

MR. FOLEY: Well, let me finish my answer. We have supported the bilateral talks between the DPRK and the South Korean Government in Beijing. I haven't heard the report that they've been suspended but, as you know, a week ago there was some delay in actually moving, once they were in Beijing, to the first meeting. These types of meetings have their ups and downs. We hope that that channel will continue; we think its in both sides' interests. So there.

QUESTION: A couple of housekeeping -

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- report

MR. FOLEY: Which one, Barry?

QUESTION: Probably all of them.

MR. FOLEY: Go ahead, Barry. We are in the weeds today.

QUESTION: All right, Jim, I just wanted to ask --

MR. FOLEY: Barry, mission accomplished.

QUESTION: No, I'm just trying to -

MR. FOLEY: Bill.

QUESTION: Thank you, Jim. Two questions on Korea. One question would be how are things going with the fishing rights dispute? Has there been anymore confrontations? Is it winding down and cooling off? And the second question is, I understand there's a pretty bad draught effecting the North again and effecting their planting; do you have any comment on that?

MR. FOLEY: Was that in a wire report?

QUESTION: That was in the paper. Somebody believed that and published it.

MR. FOLEY: I'll have to check that for you to see what our experts know about whether there's a draught further negatively impacting the food situation in North Korea.

But on the first - Mr. Lambros, I'm still answering this question. But on your first question, there was another event yesterday when, for the first time since the June 15 confrontation between South Korean and North Korean naval vessels, DPRK fishing boats crossed the Northern Limit Line on June 30. No DPRK warships were observed in the vicinity, and our understanding is that the fishing boats returned north of the Northern Limit Line without any incident.

The North Koreans have indicated that they will attend general officer talks to be hosted by the UN command July 2 - tomorrow -- at Punmunjom. We welcome the DPRK's continued participation in the talks, which are aimed at peacefully resolving the dispute through tension-reduction measures that will also prevent future confrontations.

QUESTION: Anything on yesterday's meeting in New York City between the Foreign Minister of Greece and Turkey, George Papandreou and Ishmail Cem?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I don't have any details on the meeting except what I've read in the press; and I'm sure you've read that also. But we're pleased that they met and we are happy that both foreign ministers indicated that the meeting went well and we're encouraged that the process of constructive discussions seems to be continuing, because I think they envisage further meetings over the next month or so.

QUESTION: Did you have any involvement to arrange this meeting, as the US Government? Any involvement?

MR. FOLEY: Well, as a member of the US Government, I read the wire report a day or two before the meeting, indicating that it was going to take place.

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