US Department of State Press Briefing: North Korean Talks

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
January 3, 2011
QUESTION: Can I go to something else then? Can you explain why Ambassador Bosworth is going to those three countries now?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, he’s following up on travel that was made last month by Deputy Secretary Steinberg and at the time NSC Director Jeff Bader. Again, NSC representative Danny Russel is with Ambassador Bosworth and also Ambassador Sung Kim. It’s part of our ongoing consultations to both evaluate the current situation and the way forward.
QUESTION: Do you think you are any closer to achieving a – (a), first of all, a resumption of some kind of North-South dialogue – both countries have made public statements lately suggesting that that might be a possibility; and then (b), to a resumption of Six-Party or some other kind of multilateral talks?
MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t want to put the cart before the horse, to draw the first metaphor of 2011. We want to see tensions in the region ease. We have noted public statements about the potential for improved dialogue between North and South. Obviously, that can be important and we’ll see whether the North follows through on that offer for dialogue. Certainly, intra-communication across the Korean Peninsula is an essential element of easing tensions, and that will be one step. But obviously, there are a number of things that North Korea has to do.
QUESTION: And does – last, does North Korea still have to take actions showing that it is serious about implementing the 2005 agreement and other – and subsequent agreements about its denuclearization before the Administration would be willing to get into a multilateral conversation with them?
MR. CROWLEY: There are steps that North Korea can take. Easing tensions with the South is one such step. Ceasing provocative actions is another step, showing a seriousness of purpose and following through on its commitments. So there are things that we will be looking for from North Korea that show us that further dialogue would be constructive.
QUESTION: Commitment on denuclearization? You didn’t actually use that word, so may be other commitments that you’re thinking about --
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, following through on its 2005 joint statement.
QUESTION: P.J., on North Korea, before the holiday was a very, very tense situation. I mean, they were actually talking about the possibility of war. And then all of a sudden, poof, it seems to be kind of back to a more stable situation. Maybe stable is not the word, but it’s quite different from what it was before. (Laughter.) How do you explain that? I mean, what exactly is going on?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, explaining things in the Korean Peninsula, particularly in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, is challenging. I mean, we did take note of the fact that North Korea, having issued some bellicose language, stepped back from that language and did not follow through. So we’ll be watching to see what North Korea does. So to some extent, what we’re hearing publicly is promising. However, words have to be followed by actions, and we will be looking to see what North Korea actually does, not just what it says.