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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on CNN's Worldview
Washington, D.C., April 10, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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MS. WOODRUFF: Thank you, Major. And now to discuss the North-South summit and what it means for US troops, diplomacy and security, we are joined by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She joins us from the State Department.

Madame Secretary, thank you for being with us. Just how big a breakthrough is this?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think it's very important, Judy. For a long time, we have been encouraging a North-South dialogue. We think it's very -- it's an essential part of trying to bring peace and stability to the peninsula, and we have been involved with talks with the North Koreans, the South Koreans, and the Japanese. We have all been working on this. And so I do think it's very important and we look forward to the summit taking place in June.

MS. WOODRUFF: These efforts have been underway to get these talks going. Why did the North Koreans finally agree to do this?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that you never can quite tell why the North Koreans have decided something. They are a very opaque society. But I think that it's important. Kim Dae-Jung, from the time that he was elected, was very interested in what he calls the "Sunshine Policy" of trying to have this kind of a dialogue with the North. And we have encouraged it because we think that it's a good idea.

MS. WOODRUFF: How do you know that the North -- that for the North this is not just a ploy, an effort for them to get more aid, because they are in dire economic straits?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, they are in dire economic straits and, as you mentioned, there is assistance in terms of food that goes through the World Food Program. But I think that it's worth testing the waters here, and this is an important step and we'll have to see how it is carried out. This is a first step. It's an important, historic step.

MS. WOODRUFF: You expect there will be meetings here in the US between US and North Korean officials in the coming weeks?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, one of the things that we had also been talking about was a high-level visit here that would replicate what Dr. Perry did last year in Pyongyang. Those talks --

MS. WOODRUFF: Former Defense Secretary.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Former Defense Secretary, who was leading a process because we were analyzing -- as you had pointed out, this is a very dangerous place and we were reviewing our policy towards North Korea. So we do expect that those talks about a high-level visit that the US and North Korea would have, those will also continue.

MS. WOODRUFF: Is it realistic to expect, Madame Secretary, that the North will agree at some point to suspend their nuclear and their biological weapons programs?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, what they have done, Judy, is there is a moratorium now on long-range missile testing; and the nuclear materials program at Yongbyon is something that is being dealt with through the Agreed Framework, and there is a way that that, in that area, that that has been frozen. And they have also agreed to on-visit sites. We're going to have one in May to Kumchang-ni.

MS. WOODRUFF: You described North Korea as an opaque society. What do you make of its leader, Kim Chong-il? He has been -- I believe it's the case that he's only been heard by his own people on television and radio one time, and he's never made a formal address to the North Korean people.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, he remains a mystery to most of us, and I think we'll have to see when he actually meets with Kim Dae-Jung. But he is the leader. He is mysterious; his society is opaque. But this is a good step forward.

MS. WOODRUFF: You're giving us a very short answer, Madame Secretary. Surely you know more about this man than you're saying.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think there are lots of reports about him, and he's hard to characterize, actually. I think he spent some time after his father's death asserting his own leadership and making sure that he was really in charge. And he is mysterious. That is basically the reports one gets about him.

Some of our friends have gone to try also to have visits in North Korea and I've talked to, for instance, the foreign minister of Italy, Foreign Minister Dini, who went. But for the most part, people can not really give you an accurate picture of Kim Chong-il.

MS. WOODRUFF: How crucial was the US role in setting up these talks?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we have been there all along in terms of all the talks. What's quite unique is that we've had these trilateral discussions with Japan, South Korea and us where we have been talking about how to have relations with the North Koreans, and that we have encouraged these talks. And Kim Dae-Jung has stayed in touch with us, and I've been in very close touch with the new foreign minister, Foreign Minister Lee. I spoke with him early this morning and we agreed to stay in very close contact throughout all of this.

MS. WOODRUFF: Finally, a very quick question about Elian Gonzalez, Madame Secretary. Is it the case that the anti-Castro community in Florida, their strong opposition to the boy going home to his father, that those efforts may have backfired here?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think it's very hard to say. I think most people would want very much for Elian and his father to be reunited. And I think that we're in the process of having that happen and all of us have been mostly concerned about the little boy.

MS. WOODRUFF: United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. We thank you very much.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

[End of Document]
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