You are here

U.S. Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice, Beijing Press Conference, Feb. 26, 2008

February 26, 2008

MR. MCCORMACK: We got half an hour. And let's get right into your questions.

SECRETARY RICE: Dive right in.

Matt, you want to start?

QUESTION: Well, sure. Did you get to see any of the big show that's just finished in Pyongyang on TV?

SECRETARY RICE: No, I've been -- I didn't see it. (Laughter.) No, I've been in meetings.

QUESTION: So you missed the several standing ovations from the crowd.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, that's good. They're a fine orchestra. I'm not surprised that they got standing ovations.

QUESTION: You still are of the same opinion that you were of on Friday that –

SECRETARY RICE: Look, as I said, I think it's a good thing. I think cultural exchange is a good thing. And it's a society that certainly needs ways to open up. And so that's positive. But you know, it's a long way from playing that concert to changing in the -- changing of the nature of the politics of North Korea. But I think it's a good thing.

QUESTION: Since you just came from a meeting with the President, I hear it went a bit long. Can you tell us why? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: Sure. (Laughter.) I think we had a lot to talk about. And look, we have a real big agenda with China. Obviously, we did have an extensive discussion of the six-party talks and how to move that forward. I just want to say the atmosphere around this issue is an atmosphere that's cooperative where people are trying to be problem solvers. And you know, we did spend a good deal of time on how to move forward and what the next steps might look like.

But we also had a discussion of Iran and the Security Council resolution that is being debated at the – in New York. We had an extensive discussion of Darfur and how to move forward on that, on Burma. And I was pleased that the Foreign Minister talked about resuming the human rights dialogue. That was something we've been trying to do for some time. So we discussed that as well. So it's just that it takes a while, especially when you have translation back and forth. It just takes a long time.

QUESTION: On North Korea, you talked on Friday briefly about proliferation. And did you discuss this with him? And can you tell us sort of more about the concept that you have in mind in terms of how to do this within the framework of the six-party talks?

SECRETARY RICE: No, the only point is that proliferation is of concern when one talks about nuclear weapons programs of North Korea. We think you have to be able to talk not just about the programs on the Korean Peninsula in North Korea, but also about the potential effects of those programs. If you remember at the time of the nuclear test, one of the biggest concerns that we put forward was that the proliferation of materials or the like could be a byproduct of the North Korean nuclear program. And everyone has concerns about proliferation, and I believe it's going to be – are we going to be best able to deal with those concerns if we are using the quite good consultative mechanism that we've developed in the six-party talks and be able to talk about issues of that kind, too.

So it's not a – you know, it's not a proposal, but I do think that we will be looking to talk about this issue because the North Koreans, in fact, took a pledge on proliferation within the context of the six-party talks. It only makes sense that you would be able to use the six-party talks to pursue those issues. And you know that we have significant concerns about North Korean proliferation. So as we move through this and as we try to complete the denuclearization process, I don't think we want to leave the proliferation concerns unaddressed.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary?

QUESTION: Go ahead. Go ahead.

QUESTION: The Foreign Minister today seemed to be reiterating the position that they feel progress is being made and has been made and that it just takes time. They seem to be satisfied with the status, with the way things are going, and there doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency really on his part. How much do you think you can count on China to be a spur in this process?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I actually think that everybody understands that this needs to move forward. It's a bit like a bicycle; if you're not moving forward, then you risk that it starts to fall down. And so the good news is that he's right about this; we have made progress and we have continued to see some progress on the disabling side. Things continue to happen. And so it wouldn't be right to say that things have come to a standstill. And I think that's the point that he was making.

But we need to make progress on – continue the disabling. We also need to really resolve some of the outstanding issues on the declaration. We're not in a situation in which we we're saying, you know, this is going to all collapse because, of course, the atmosphere remains good. Chris Hill was just with his North Korea counterpart – I lose track. I'm sorry. I've been in so many continents I can't remember exactly when it was. But maybe --

QUESTION: Last week.

SECRETARY RICE: A week ago, a week ago. And so the conversations continue. But I think that China shares our desire to get this moving forward at a more rapid pace, and I know that they are using their good offices and their influence to try to do so.

QUESTION: Are they urging the United States to do something -- for example, Mr. Yang said that they want a comprehensive, integrated and balanced approach. Is that a codeword for saying that --

SECRETARY RICE: That's – no, what's -- that's exactly what the second phase is. It's comprehensive, integrated and balanced approach because it has obligations on both sides. It's comprehensive in the sense that it's a very clear roadmap of all of the obligations that are to be met in the second phase. And so I – you know, I wouldn't disagree with that statement. I think that's what the second phase is.

QUESTION: I thought they might mean that maybe the U.S. could take them off the list of state sponsors of – for --

SECRETARY RICE: Well, that's a part of the second phase to be – to occur as progress is made on the rest of the second phase. We're going to meet our obligations and the North has to meet theirs, too.

QUESTION: But it's a question of sequencing, right?

SECRETARY RICE: No, it's a matter of having made enough progress that we know that that would be warranted.

QUESTION: Why not --

SECRETARY RICE: And you know, we can't – look, this is a – the terrorism list is a major issue for us, and so we expect that the North is going to have demonstrated that that declaration is indeed going to meet the standards.

QUESTION: Why not accelerate the fuel deliveries to some degree? I mean, you've noted and you've stressed, and it is really remarkable the amount of work that they have allowed to be done at Yongbyon and have American, you know, scientists crawling all over the place and taking stuff apart. Why not speed up the fuel deliveries to some degree, even though I know they have capacity constraints, to take away that argument that they have that they are annoyed that they haven't gotten the fuel as fast as they might have liked?

SECRETARY RICE: I think, actually, there has been some acceleration of fuel deliveries, particularly of the Russian fuel deliveries. There were some difficulties, technical or otherwise difficulties in getting some of those fuel deliveries made. And as the disabling has gone forward, the fuel deliveries have gone forward, too. There are capacity issues.

So I don't think anybody's withholding fuel deliveries, and people are not trying to mete it out a little bit at a time. But there are – there have just been some constraints on getting them done. But you're right; the – if we're – the pace of disabling should be a little bit faster, but some of the things that have been done are quite remarkable and we want to continue that disabling of it. But we're not trying to hold up fuel deliveries (inaudible).

QUESTION: One other thing. Just – did they – did the Chinese, on human rights, did they give you a date by which they will resume the dialogue?

SECRETARY RICE: No, but we will – we will set a date and we'll get in touch to try and set a date.

QUESTION: Were you surprised when the Foreign Minister made that statement at the press availability that they are prepared to resume talks? Or had you discussed that in your meetings?

SECRETARY RICE: We had discussed it in our meetings.

QUESTION: On the U.S.-China relationship, the issue – security issue, like shooting down the satellite or the transparency of the Chinese country, have that issue came up on the agenda with the talk with President Hu Jintao?

SECRETARY RICE: I talked with – talked with the Foreign Minister about it. I did not have an opportunity to talk with Hu Jintao about this. The satellite issue we've dealt with. But we did talk about the importance of mil-to-mil relations, the transparency, the efforts that the United States makes to understand Chinese military modernization in the hopes that there will be greater transparency. We did have that discussion. I discussed it also a little bit with (inaudible).

QUESTION: Were there any positive reply from them with respect to your interests on the transparency?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we think that one of the strongest means by which to improve transparency is the mil-to-mil relationship, and that has really accelerated over the last several years of the Administration and we think that that's really the way that you get at transparency issues. It's good to have the professionals who really – you know, militaries are, first and foremost, a profession and they understand these issues in ways that I think just reading a document or producing a report could never do. And so we've always thought that the mil-to-mil relationship is the most important way to do that.

QUESTION: Can we just for a moment just go back to the declarations, because I know the Chinese are not making the same statements about proliferation that you're making. And if you just – at this point, it doesn't – it's not clear to me how the move forward would occur unless (inaudible) made changes in the North Koreans' attitude towards the things that you want them to declare in that document. What – it also seems that what you're promising is in the future. In other words, you want from them quite a bit, but you're not offering anything up front. You're waiting for them to do it, and then you do it.

SECRETARY RICE: There are a lot of discussions going on about how to synchronize the end of phase two and how to have all sides in a position to fulfill their obligations. So those discussions are going on. We're having them with the Chinese, we're having them with the South Koreans, with the North Koreans. Everybody is talking about that.

The proliferation point is that the North Koreans themselves have undertaken a pledge not to proliferate knowhow and material. They reaffirmed that in October. And so we consider this to be a part of the six-party dialogue because they took that pledge to the six parties. And so this is an evolving and a maturing framework. We discuss issues that might not have been foreseen before, but given that there's a pledge there, it is a proper topic for the six parties and that's what we're --

QUESTION: But there was no agreement on verification. There was – yes, they did what you said they did, but verification was not discussed at that point.

SECRETARY RICE: We're continuing discussions.

QUESTION: But were the Chinese as enthusiastic about the idea of sort of information-sharing and verification to prevent proliferation?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think the Chinese would like to prevent proliferation of nuclear materials for certain. That's something that everything --

QUESTION: But they might not be ready at this point to try to set up some kind of a framework to actually do that?

SECRETARY RICE: Again, you know, let's leave our – we're having discussions about how we exercise our obligations, how people fulfill their pledges. But I don't think there's -- we've made no secret of our concerns about proliferation, North Korea's proliferation. It's also, I think, quite obvious that the six parties, or the countries that are at the table in the six parties, given where they are in the region, given the interests, are appropriate to helping to deal with the problem of proliferation. And so we've had very good discussions. It was a very amiable set of discussions and, you know, we'll see how we move forward.

QUESTION: Is part of your strategy to get North -- when you're trying to get North Korea to move forward, is part of your strategy to sort of lay out more clearly to them what they can expect afterwards, after the declaration?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's pretty clear in the -- in phase two what is to be expected. The way we've done this -- and I think it's worked thus far -- is we've had a kind of roadmap, if you will, of mutual obligations as we move forward. Now, that roadmap has not been developed for the third phase, although we know that the third phase is -- includes the dismantling of the program. We know that the third phase will include some steps toward political engagement on the way to normalization. We know that there needs to be an end, a verifiable end, to the North Korean program and an accounting for what happened and a disposition of what happened. So we know the elements, but the way that we succeed it is to take the elements that everybody knows will belong in that phase and then to be pretty careful in having a sense of what obligations have to be fulfilled on both sides. That's really, I think, what's meant by action for action.

And so one of the next steps, of course, is going to be for the parties to begin to map out this extremely important third phase. I think it's fair to say that the first phase succeeded in stopping the program, the plutonium program, where it was. The second phase then succeeded in making it more difficult for that program to restart. That, in itself, was already a step beyond any agreement that has ever been reached with the North Koreans to actually start disabling the apparatus for the plutonium program.

Now, the next phase has to deal with dismantling it and accounting for what it made based on the declaration and what is going to become of it. There is, in anticipation – as that is done, there is also anticipation of beginning to talk about what would actually happen on the Korean Peninsula, removing – replacing the armistice with what's called a peace mechanism in the '05 agreement, and the establishment of this Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism which would be a kind of forum.

One thing the Minister and I talked about today is that the North Korean nuclear issue, which could have – if you think about the parties involved, could have been a source of conflict between the major parties in the region, has actually turned out to be a basis for cooperation between the parties in the region. And so taking that habit of cooperation on this issue and extending it to other issues of interest is what is envisioned in this Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism.

So there are a lot of pieces for the next phase and we'll have to sit down – the negotiators will have to sit down and kind of work out a roadmap, but that's yet to be done.

QUESTION: Do you get the sense at all that the Olympics and the importance that the Chinese attach to that has made that – has opened a window to make them more – perhaps more receptive to your concerns on both North Korea – or on human rights or on anything for that matter, or is it really just a (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: No, I can't – look, I can't get into their motivations. But no, look, we've been very clear that – the President's been very clear this is going to – this is a sporting event. China is opening up to the world in a lot of ways, and I do believe that there is more of an effort to reconcile China's size and influence in international politics, which is a relatively new thing, with China's foreign policy behavior. It's – you know, China is making an impact and I see them grappling with the – you know, the responsible stakeholder idea, which everybody – since they couldn't translate it – do you remember when Bob Zoellick said it? Well, it turns out they can translate it and they talk about it, actually.

And we had a discussion, for instance, today of Africa. I said I was just in Africa and the Minister had been in South Africa not too long ago, and we were talking about some of the hotspots in Africa, but also about how to think about development assistance and the need to encourage that development assistance be well spent on behalf of the people. So there's a broadening, I think, in general, of China's view of itself in international politics, and I think we're benefitting from that.

QUESTION: Do you get – and on Darfur, I'm presuming that was one of the (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: We had good discussions on Darfur, yes.

QUESTION: With both the Minister and the President?

SECRETARY RICE: You know, they're going to send people, an engineering brigade. And I know that Ban Ki-moon believes that the Status of Forces agreement that he signed with Sudan is a qualitative – qualitatively different step forward, and I was saying to the Chinese we need to make sure that it is.

QUESTION: And they -- they're (inaudible) with it?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, they (inaudible)?

QUESTION: And did they – did any of your interlocutors, did they specifically ask you or remind you that – ask you to remind the world that the Olympics are just a sporting event and shouldn't be used regarding Darfur? I mean, did that whole Spielberg thing, did that come up (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Look, the President said it, so --

QUESTION: But you did feel the need to reiterate the stance on the Taiwanese referendum?

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, because I'm concerned about it. I'm concerned about it. It shouldn't happen because it is not going to be constructive, it's not going to help Taiwan, it's not going to help the region. And you know, the Taiwanese will make their own decisions as a democratic entity, but I don't – I don't think this is responsible, and so I wanted to make that clear.

QUESTION: Secretary, there is a speculation that Mr. Kim Jong-il might come to China this year. Have you discussed that kind of issue and do you have a future trip to North Korea? Have you discussed about that?

SECRETARY RICE: No plans, no plans for one. I don't know if Kim Jong-il was planning to come or not.

QUESTION: Secretary, can I ask (inaudible)? Kim Jong-il did not appear at the concert for --

SECRETARY RICE: Is that right?

QUESTION: What is your opinion of his not appearing? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: The thing is, I mean, I don't know – I don't know. Was he ever planning to appear? I don't – I don't really know. I don't know what to make of it. It'll be interesting to hear, you know, the Philharmonic's stories and what it was like. I think that'll be quite fascinating. But you know, it's a symphony orchestra and they're doing what symphony orchestras do, which is they're going to go -- and they've performed and I'm sure they performed really, really well. And I would – I would like to see North Koreans come to the United States -- North Korean students, others. It would be good to be opening to the rest of the world and North Korean – the North Korean people with more opportunity to see others and engage with them.

QUESTION: So even if no more progress is made on nuclear issues, do you think that U.S. Government should improve their cultural exchange relationship with North Korea?

SECRETARY RICE: Look, I believe that cultural exchange is something that we ought to be looking at in any case, because I know that we focus overwhelmingly on denuclearization and that is clearly the issue here, but the United States is also concerned about the North Korean people. We've been concerned about the humanitarian conditions. We are concerned about human rights there. We're concerned about their well-being. And nobody would be better served by an opening up than the North Korean people. So as this moves forward, I think you'll be – we'll be looking to see what ideas we can find to have the North Korean people able to engage the rest of the world.

QUESTION: Looking ahead at Tokyo tomorrow, what do you think Japan could be doing differently to helping the six-party talks?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think Japan has been a good partner in the six-party talks. One of the other elements that we've been very concerned about is the – we have been concerned about the Japanese abduction issue and we have both facilitated and supported the bilateral discussions between Japan and the DPRK. And we think about people who know that there's a potential process of normalization between the United States and the DPRK, but there's also a process of normalization that would have to take place between Japan and the DPRK. And so we've encouraged that they deal with the DPRK, deal with the very real concerns that the Japanese have about this really pretty awful humanitarian issue. I mean, you have the disappearance of these people and no accounting for them. That's something that we've been encouraging that that also takes place.

So the Japanese, I think, know that the United States has continued to talk about it. When Chris Hill is there, he brings it up and he'll continue to do so. But Japan has been a good partner. But we understand that there's certain bilateral issues for Japan that need to move forward before Japan can participate in certain kinds of aid activities.

MR. MCCORMACK: And who wants the last question?


QUESTION: I've got a tiny one.

SECRETARY RICE: A tiny one, okay.


SECRETARY RICE: Large one, tiny one.

QUESTION: No, no, no. Mine is a tiny one, too.

QUESTION: Okay. I'll get a large one. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: On joint press availability this afternoon, you mentioned about the – you are urging the – all of the six-party participants to use all the possible influence to North Korea to move forward.


QUESTION: And how was the President Hu Jintao's position on applying that influence or the – putting more pressure on North Korea to move forward on the declaration?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Chinese have made very clear that they are using their influence because they want to see this move forward. And they – you know, they're party to these obligations. They are meeting their obligations. Others need to meet their obligations as well. And so I have no doubt that everybody is -- everybody is trying to get this to move forward. These are difficult issues. I think sometimes, you know, we forget that we are talking about having stopped, now reversing and then dismantling, the North Korean nuclear program and denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, potentially on the way to an end to the state of war on the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of a peace and security mechanism in a place that has basically no security institutions, which is Northeast Asia.

So these are pretty big ideas. And it's not surprising that it's complicated and it's hard to do. But I'm pleased that we have made the progress that we have. I just think that it's – it needs now another push so that we can get to the end of this phase because the next phase has a lot of very interesting elements from the point of view of this whole region, and we'd like to get to it.

QUESTION: Hu Jintao was positive on doing more?

SECRETARY RICE: I (inaudible).

QUESTION: Just a quick thing --

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, your little question. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yeah. Well, it's important. It's an important question. The two human rights cases that I gather were raised in the smaller session after you met --

SECRETARY RICE: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Okay. Did you yourself raise those or was it the Ambassador or was it --

SECRETARY RICE: I raised them with the Foreign Minister.

QUESTION: Thank you. And there was – did you actually ever get this letter that – from Yahoo about the – that they say that they sent to you about their --

SECRETARY RICE: I have not seen it, but --

QUESTION: You're aware of it?

SECRETARY RICE: I am aware that there was a letter – that they say that a letter was sent out. It hasn't --

QUESTION: Right. But those people were not. Those -- the people that they were talking about were not (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: (Inaudible.)


QUESTION: They were.

SECRETARY RICE: They were? Yeah. I guess I can't (inaudible) the letter (inaudible), but I did raise the case.

QUESTION: I'm sorry. The three cases are Hu Jia, Jude Shao, and the third is --

QUESTION: Yahoo people.


QUESTION: Shi Tao is the --

QUESTION: We're okay?


QUESTION: I mean –

QUESTION: Three cases, four people. Right?

QUESTION: Well, there are three cases. Yeah.

SECRETARY RICE: Three cases.

QUESTION: What are you going to go away from here with? Clearly, you have the sense that you have the Chinese support for a declaration of the kind you want to see with the content that you would like to see.

SECRETARY RICE: We have – we all agree that there needs to be an accurate accounting of nuclear programs of North Korea. That's what the phase two required. And I think everybody agrees that phase two ought to be fully implemented.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: All right. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.