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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Department Spokesman James P. Rubin
Excerpt from Daily Press Briefing:
Update on Four-Party Talks and Process
Washington, DC, October 14, 1997
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QUESTION: Jamie, do you have anything to say about a report over the weekend, relating to our relations with South Korea? Apparently, this reporter was suggesting that we were impatient with South Korean four-party talks.
MR. RUBIN: I do have some information on that; let me provide it to you. The premise that we have a problem with the South Koreans in pursuing the four-party talks is incorrect.
Let me start by saying there are no new developments regarding the four-party talks. That doesn't mean we're pessimistic. As I've said before, this is a marathon, not a sprint. The four-party process remains the only practical way to deal with the complex, difficult issues surrounding the replacement of the armistice. We believe there will be progress, because that is in the interest of all the parties concerned.
We would, of course, prefer greater speed here. Even though it's a marathon, we would prefer it to be going a little quicker. But we are in this for the long haul; ups and downs are not surprising. It is difficult to speak with confidence about what goes on in North Korea or the reasons for the difficulty we've had in getting these talks started. But it does seem that questions about the present hiatus in the talks should be directed at Pyongyang, not Seoul. The timing of the election of Kim Jung-Il as General Secretary may have been a factor.
There is no gap between the United States and the Republic of Korea. South Korea and the United States have been working very closely with officials at all levels discussing the various issues in play -- whether it's food aid, whether it's what the long-term agenda should be in Korea; we've been working closely and cooperatively on this initiative.
Both sides consult regularly, extensively and intensively with each other, and it bears repeating that the four-party process came out of a decision by Presidents Clinton and Kim from South Korea. So the idea that we and the South Koreans are having some problem here that's exacerbating the delay in getting these talks started is wrong. And the idea that we favor some kind of opposition victory in South Korea is also wrong. We have been very clear and firm and consistent that it is up to the people of South Korea to make their decisions about their government, to select their president. We don't favor any one candidate or another.
Link to complete October 14, 1997 briefing.
[end of document]

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