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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright,
Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Hong Soon-Young, and
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura

Joint Press Conference, Four Seasons Hotel
Singapore, July 27, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning. Foreign Minister Hong, Foreign Minister Koumura and I have just conducted a very productive and timely meeting regarding our policies towards the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea.

This is the second trilateral meeting we have had at the ministerial level. It underscores both the importance of the subject and the close and cooperative approach we have been able to develop on this and other issues.

Our nations are united in urging the DPRK to respond positively to the opportunity that now exists for it to improve its relations with the international community. There has never been a better time than this.

President Kim Dae-jung's engagement policy, the Perry review process, the Four Party talks and other contacts have made it clear to Pyongyang that it has a good chance to strengthen its economic and political ties with the world. Taking advantage of this opportunity would enhance prospects for growth and for a higher standard of living for North Korea's people.

At the same time, we have stressed to the North that improved relations depend on cooperation on security matters. This means full implementation of the Agreed Framework, complete transparency on nuclear issues, and cessation of the development, export and testing of longer-range missiles.

More specifically, we stress that another long-range missile launch, whether declared to be a missile test or an attempt to place a satellite in orbit, would be highly destabilizing and would have very serious consequences for our efforts to build better relations.

Our goal is a Korean peninsula that is stable, increasingly prosperous, and moving towards permanent reconciliation. This would be very much in the interest of Koreans, North and South, and all those with a stake in the region's future.

And now I would be very pleased to turn the floor over to Foreign Minister Hong.

MINISTER HONG: Yes, indeed we had very fruitful and meaningful consultations among all three of us. This is a part of the course of consultations and co-operations among the three foreign ministers. The main message after the meeting to Pyongyang is Pyongyang should seize the opportunity and respond favorably to the Perry concept and proposal. The proposal is based on the engagement policy of the Republic of Korea. And the common message or the most important message in this is that the two Koreas should open a new era of peaceful co-existence. We offer this in the name of peace and stability in the Korean peninsula.

And on the immediate issue of possible rocket launching, the priority is on prevention, how to deter Pyongyang from firing another missile. The priority is, again I emphasize, on prevention of missile firing. But in case of another missile firing, there should be penalties; North Korea would find it that they have to pay a price for this active provocation. And again, after this showing of solidarity among the three of us, I hope Pyongyang will get the right message and respond favorably to all this Perry proposal which has been an offer for some time. Thank you very much.

MINISTER KOUMURA (through interpreter): Last time the three of us met together was in September of last year after the missile was launched by the North. And this time we are getting together the three of us before another potential test launch by the North and we believe that we've been able to produce favorable results, good results. We very much hope that North Korea will respond positively to the comprehensive and integrated approach indicated by Dr. William Perry -- then there should be benefits to the North. Should they choose the other way then there will be serious negative results for the North. I believe it was indeed fruitful that we were able to come up with these two clear messages. And in case they respond favorably, they will enjoy not only benefits but in Japan, U.S. and the Republic of Korea but in fact the entire international community will either enjoy benefits or threat and depending on which way the North will go whether they choose to launch once again the missile or not. We hope that this message will reach Pyongyang and that they will come up with constructive response to our message. Thank you.

QUESTION: This is a question to the U.S. and South Korean foreign ministers. On the issue of South Korea's own missile program, are you persuaded that Seoul will go forward with this program regardless of what Pyongyang does? And there were apparently some statements out of Pyongyang yesterday to the effect that it does not consider the United States its sovereign enemy. And I wondered if you saw anything positive in those remarks or any other communications you've heard from Pyonyang recently?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me first say South Koreans obviously have their rights to develop what they want. However we believe that its very important that it be within the regimes that now exist, the MTCR and other ways that the international community is dealing with missiles. I think that what is very important here is that in terms of messages, I think that we are hoping that Pyongyang is listening to messages that are being delivered loud and clear by the three of us here and Ambassador Kartman as he talks to them in the Four Party talks, I think that its very important. And we will it's often hard to really read the tea leaves. The proof here is in what happens or to put it better in what does not happen.

MINISTER HONG: Your question is about the missile development on the part of South Korean government?

QUESTION: Missile development or missile defense.

MINISTER HONG: On the part of South Korea?


MINISTER HONG: This question of missile development on the part of South Korea has been pending between U.S. and the Republic of Korea. And we decided to continue the consultations on this at the expert level. The whole purpose of missile development on the part of South Korea is to reinforce the deterrence against North Korean act of adventurism. And my government is prepared and ready to abide by the spirit of MTCR. But again we need this development program in line with the MTCR letters and spirit.

And also we have to consider that North Korea is rather advanced in its missile technology. So we should do something to reinforce the real deterrence, credible deterrence on the part of South Korea. Talking about the prevention of North Korean missile technologies, the ultimate purpose of all this exercise is to bring North Korea to agree to the MTCR agreement. So it has some connections or some relations with the North Korean missile development programs also. Again I emphasize also that the whole purpose of this exercise is to bring North Korea or to engage North Korea into some sort of understanding about the missile program. Thank you.

QUESTION (though interpreter): I am going to ask Mr. Hong Soon-Young, the Korean Foreign Minister and Mr. Koumura, the Japanese Foreign Minister. My first question is for Mr. Hong: In spite of all your diplomatic efforts, if North Korean still launches the missile, what is the South Korea's follow up measures diplomatically or economically against North Korea? Will you considering reporting this to the UN? Second Question is for Mr. Komura. Even in this morning you still stick to KEDO project and the Geneva agreement but actually, you could have frozen the fund of US$10 billion for KEDO so, do you still support the original KEDO plan?

MINISTER HONG: I will answer first my part of the question. Again, before answering your question, I wanted to emphasize again that the priority is on prevention, on deterring Pyongyang from firing another missile. But, we have to also be prepared for this contingency of missile firing. And when we take the reactions in both diplomatic and economic areas the first thing which comes to my mind is making a strong worded denouncement -- protestations or condemnations about the act of provocations. Because this is a provocation in the sense that it is a challenge to the NPT regime in the world and this will detail some sort of reactions. And reactions will give rise to another reactions from other parts of the world and this will lead to escalations to tensions. So this I define as a provocation to the peace and stability in my region. So it has to be condemned; it has to be denounced in the strongest possible words. That is the number one measure we can think of in diplomatic field.

And in the economic area we can think of holding back all the incentives on offer and as well as scaling down the speed and scope of all the international or the inter-Korean cooperation programs. I would not go into the details of the measures to be taken in case of another missile firing. Thank you very much.

MINISTER KOUMURA (through interpreter): Sorry, there wasn't any Korean into English translation, so I couldn't get the question at all.

QUESTION: The ministers today said that you stick to the KEDO project and agreed framework. But yesterday you allegedly said that you've freezed KEDO loan in case of the North Korean missile launch. So are you sure that you are stick to the KEDO project and the agreed framework? Thank you.

MINISTER KOUMURA (through interpreter): Well, what I've been saying over and over again -- let me repeat this accurately. The KEDO framework is to deter --- is the most realistic and effective framework to deter nuclear development by North Korea. Now should there be another test launch by North Korea, in view of the Japanese people's sentiment, it will be extremely difficult for Japan to continue its cooperation with KEDO. That is all I can stay at this stage.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Could I just add here that as our statement here says we confirm the significance of the 1994 agreed framework because the framework serves as a integral part of our joint approach as we seek to improve relations with the DPRK. It is also the most effective, only effective way to make sure that the fissile material production program is frozen.

QUESTION: (through interpreter): One question for Minister Koumura. Looking at this joint statement, the message that is contained here is not out for the first time. And I wonder if you really believe that you will be able to deter the North from launching another missile by announcing this declaration. If in spite of this, the launch goes ahead how would you respond to that?

MINISTER KOUMURA (through interpreter): The three foreign ministers of Japan, U.S. and Korea have expressed as their unified view that if North Korea shows a positive response to the comprehensive and integrated approach offered by Dr. William Perry, the North will enjoy benefits. But conversely, should they go ahead with the test launch, they will suffer serious negative consequences. We have come out with this clear message. And if you consider which is greater, benefits or the negative consequences, I believe it would be obvious to them that positive response to our appeal will bring greater benefits than negative consequences. At least, that is obvious in our statement. But the North Koreans may not be able to understand that so I don't know if we have 100% probability that they will respond positively. But I think nevertheless it was meaningful that we came out with this joint statement.

Now should the North still go ahead with the test launch, I really can't give you details at this stage as to how we shall respond. But with regard to the flows of people, goods and money, we might consider taking some actions. But beyond that I have no intent to go into details.

Thank you very much.

[End of Document]

Blue Line

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