News

[EXCERPTS] U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #50 MONDAY, APRIL 7, 1997, 1:18 P. M.

NORTH KOREA
6-7, 9 Meeting 4/4/97 in New York with DPRK, ROK: Four-Party Talks;
Participants; Missile Talks 
6-7 DPRK Food Shortages; U.S. $10 Million Aid Commitment; WFP
Distribution Program, 
19 UN Interagency Food Appeal 
.....

QUESTION: Can you give us a readout on the meeting in New York
on Friday on Korea? 

MR. BURNS: I'll be glad to. As you know, the United States meets
regularly with the North Korean Mission to the U.N. up in New York.
We did so on Friday. This time it was a three-way meeting: the United
States, the Republic of Korea and the North Korean delegation. The
purpose of the meeting was to explore further the United States and
ROK proposal on the Four-Party Talks following up the joint briefing
that we had on March 5th in New York. 

The North Koreans indicated that they will be prepared soon to give the
United States and the Republic of Korea a formal response to our joint
briefing. Our hope, of course, is that the North Koreans will agree very
soon to the Four-Party Proposal themselves, and that those talks can be
begun. That's our hope. We'll see if that works out that way. 

QUESTION: Nick - go ahead. 

QUESTION: Did they define "soon"? Are we talking this week, or is it
"soon" - 

MR. BURNS: "Soon" is "soon." In diplomatic parlance, "soon" means
"soon." (Laughter) 

QUESTION: Was there a - 

MR. BURNS: Sometimes "soon" is a couple of hours; sometimes it's a
couple of days. It's very seldom more than a couple of weeks. I would
think between several hours and several weeks. That's "soon." That's a
very broad definition of "soon." 

QUESTION: Was there more discussion about their food situation? 

MR. BURNS: I'll have to check. I know that - I'll have to check on
that. As you know, the World Food Program is looking again at the
food situation in North Korea to see if it is now going to be necessary to
have more international food aid arrive. There's been a lot of
speculation, but I don't believe there's been a formal World Food
Program announcement. I could be mistaken on that. Maybe I am
mistaken on that. I'll check into that. 

In any case, we have made a commitment for $10 million, and we
certainly are in a position to listen to the World Food Program. But I
know on Friday we did not make any additional commitments of food
aid. I just don't know how big an issue that was and how it was
discussed. 

QUESTION: Does the U.S. remain confident that the food does, in
fact, get to the people who need it and it doesn't - 

MR. BURNS: Absolutely, we do. Because the food is not distributed
through the North Korean Government or the North Korean military. It
is distributed through the World Food Program which has an excellent
record. We can verify where the food goes. 

In this case, the appeal by the WFP is for food aid to young kids below
the age of six because they're the hardest hit in the current wave of
malnutrition of food shortages. We think it's appropriate to focus on
kids. That's where we want our food to go, and it will go in that
direction. 

QUESTION: Is there any other aspect of the meeting on Friday that
you can talk about? 

MR. BURNS: I can tell you that Mark Minton, our Office Director of
Korean Affairs, represented the United States along with Jack Pritchard
of the National Security Council. The lead participants from the South
Koreans were from the South Korean Embassy; and the North Korean
Mission to the U.N. was represented by Minister Counselor Han Song
Ryol. Those were the major participants in the meeting. 

I expect we'll continue these meetings, these U.S.-North Korean
meetings, and from time to time involve the South Koreans in the
meetings as well. 

QUESTION: There's a story out of South Korea that the North
Koreans requested another briefing. Was that part of the talks? 

MR. BURNS: This may have been the briefing you're talking about.
This is a general discussion on the Four Party talks. I don't know if the
request that you're referring to was subsequent to the Friday meeting. 

QUESTION: I thought it came out of that meeting they asked for? 

MR. BURNS: We've had a lot of briefings. We're willing to have
another, I guess, but we'd really like the North Koreans to accept the
proposal - to accept the proposal. We hope we can make progress
with them in that regard. 
..............


QUESTION: The United Nations has released its new appeal for food
aid. Do you have any indication what the U.S. will be? 

MR. BURNS: The World Food Program? 

QUESTION: No, it's an interagency appeal. 

MR. BURNS: Interagency of the U.N. agencies. 

QUESTION: Yes. 

MR. BURNS: I know that we intended to talk to them once the report
was issued - once the official appeal was issued. Let me try to go back
and see if I can give you a more comprehensive answer to that question.
That's a fair question.