Deputy Department Spokesman James B. Foley
MR. FOLEY:... I can tell you what in general terms was accomplished. There may have been briefings there in Geneva that we haven't obtained yet here -- and maybe you haven't either -- that put some flesh on the bones.
But what I can say is that the talks concluded their first session this afternoon, meaning the end of this first plenary session. Those talks were cordial and productive.
The US wishes to express its appreciation to the Swiss Government for its support for this meeting.
At this first session, the four parties presented their initial views. There was also discussion regarding how to organize in preparation for future meetings, at which time more attention will be focused on the specific issues of concern to the four parties.
Now, the four parties agreed at this meeting on several procedural items. First, as a result of a random draw, that the subsequent order for chairing the meetings would be first, the People's Republic of China; second, the Republic of Korea; third, the DPRK; and fourth, the US.
The next plenary session will convene in Geneva on March 16, 1998.
Before that second plenary session takes place, the United States, in its capacity of chairman of the first plenary session, will organize an ad hoc subcommittee meeting for intersessional consultations that will take place in mid-February in Beijing.
QUESTION:What is that?
MR. FOLEY:That means it's a working group, in English, Sid. These intersessional consultations will consider arrangements for organizing the work of the second plenary session, and will provide recommendations for consideration at that session.
QUESTION:Can I ask a follow up? When the United States says that these talks will last for a long time, do you have in mind, months, years, decades? What's a long time?
MR. FOLEY:I think Ambassador Roth in Geneva -- I did see this -- in his comments, I believe he read the joint statement that was issued, as the chair at the end. He took a few questions, and he refused to be drawn into setting a timetable. We would, of course, like to achieve progress rapidly, given that this is the single most important leftover, hold-over from the Cold War; an area of great tension.
That's what brings the four parties together -- the need, really, to seriously address the need for the institution of a permanent peace regime, and to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. So the fact that we are realistic and expect this to be, as has been stated, a marathon and not a sprint, does not mean that we're in any way not lacking commitment to a speedy progress and speedy resolution of the issues. But I can't put a time frame on it.
We just think, given how difficult and how lengthy the process was to arrive at the plenary talks, and given the seriousness of the issues, and the novelty of the forum, it's going to take time. But I couldn't put a time frame on it.
Link to complete December 10, 1997 briefing.
[end of document]
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