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Rice outlines U.S. strategy for North nuclear problem

Mar 20,2005
While traveling last week to Tokyo on a weeklong Asia trip, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke at length to reporters on the U.S. strategy in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. What follows is an edited transcript of her comments pertaining to the Korean Peninsula.

SECRETARY RICE: I want to emphasize that South Korea is a country that is going through changes. It now is a democratic South Korea, and obviously, the basis for the alliance and the relationship is therefore different, and it’s a relationship that is deepening and broadening and modernizing.
QUESTION: Have you asked China to take actions vis-a-vis North Korea to compel them to return to the six-party talks or do you just want them to ask?
RICE: I’ll have to leave the diplomacy to the Chinese with the North Koreans, but I don’t think that there is any doubt that both China and the United States have a strong interest in having the North Koreans return to the talks and return to the talks in a spirit that allows those talks to move forward toward what is their goal which is the ending of the North Korean nuclear program in a verifiable and irreversible way.
QUESTION: You said you thought it was obviously important that Chinese diplomacy with North Korea be effective. Inherently from what you see, do you think it has been effective thus far, and do you think they’ve done everything they can?
RICE: The North Koreans are not easy. If this had been easy, it would have been resolved in 1994 when the Agreed Framework was signed, and it wasn’t resolved then.
But I do think that we will need to intensify our efforts to ― not just get the North Koreans back to the table, that’s important, yes ― but there’s a proposal on the table from the United States as to within the six-party framework, we were asked and prodded by our allies several months ago to make a step forward in the six-party talks; we did. There is still no answer to that proposal.
QUESTION: The North Koreans say that one of the reasons why they don’t want to go back to the negotiating table is because they have taken offense to you describing them as an outpost of tyranny.
RICE: They’re trying to change the subject. The United States doesn’t have any intention of invading or attacking North Korea.
It is also on the table that because no one intends to do that, the North Koreans can have security assurances within a multilateral framework.
The North Koreans have already been told an awful lot about what this new path could look like, and you have to challenge the North Koreans now to make the strategic choice and let the rest of the world know whether they are prepared to make that strategic choice.


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