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U.S. Department of State
96/09/24 Spokesman's Briefing on Korean and
Greek Bilateral Meetings
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
(New York, New York)
For Immediate Release September 24, 1996
BY NICHOLAS BURNS, SPOKESMAN
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER'S BILATERAL MEETINGS
WITH THE KOREAN AND GREEK FOREIGN MINISTERS
New York, New York
September 24, 1996
MR. BURNS: I want to report to you on two meetings that Secretary of
State Christopher just concluded here. The first was a meeting with
Foreign Minister Gong of South Korea. The second was a meeting with
Foreign Minister Pangalos of Greece. Let me take them in order.
Secretary Christopher began the meeting with Foreign Minister Gong by
saying that the United States sends condolences to the South Koreans on
the deaths of the three South Korean soldiers who had been killed trying
to find the North Korean infiltrators over the last 10 days.
He said, in addition to the very clear support we've given to South
Korea publicly, we fully supported the protest made by South Korea to
the Armistice Commission; that we had agreed that Congressman Bill
Richardson who planned to visit North Korea would postpone his trip.
Congressman Richardson, of course, has postponed that trip to North
We had agreed that now is not the right time to press forward on some of
the issues that Congressman Richardson would have been addressing in the
course of his visit. The Secretary said -- and I think he indicated
this publicly as well -- that the United States believes it's very
important to maintain, however, those activities with North Korea that
are clearly in our interest -- the Agreed Framework, which freezes North
Korea's nuclear program, the four-party proposal offer which President
Clinton and President Kim made in April at Cheju Island. That offer is
still in effect.
Minister Gong said the one thing that had to be understood about the
submarine incident was that while it was not new -- there had been
similar military incursions in the past -- it was unusual because of the
submarine and because of the very large number of soldiers, 26 involved
on the part of North Korea. He said he thought it was the most serious
incursion into South Korea since 1968, when there was a very well-known
incursion by the North Koreans.
He also said that this incursion has had a great impact upon the
population in South Korea because of the footage of the sub, the brazen
nature of the incursion, and he said that had to be understood.
He very much welcomed the statement that Secretary Christopher made, the
very, very clear statements denouncing the North Korean Government,
calling upon the North Korean Government to avoid further provocations
and clearly putting the onus of this incident on the North Koreans.
So that was the first part of the discussion. The first part of the
meeting really dealt with the submarine incident.
Second, they discussed the Agreed Framework. They agreed that it was
going smoothly forward; that we had to continue our efforts to support
KEDO -- the Korean Energy Development Organization. As Secretary
Christopher noted in his public statement to you, we have been
successful in raising more money -- we, in the international community.
As for the United States, you remember the Administration had requested
$25 million in U.S. funds to support KEDO. We had problems with the
Congress throughout 1996. We just heard this morning that it may now be
possible for Congress to agree to the $25 million figure. So we're very
pleased about that.
Secretary Christopher made a number of phone calls to the Congressional
leadership over the last four or five days about that particular issue.
We're also pleased that the European Union will contribute money.
President Clinton raised this issue of contributions to KEDO with Prime
Minister Hashimoto this morning in their bilateral over at the U.S.
There was a very brief discussion of the food situation in North Korea.
Both South Korea and the United States agreed that we had to keep our
eyes on that very closely. It is harvest season so it's difficult to
measure food shortages at harvest season, but we decided we would keep
talking about that.
On the four-party talks, I think there's general agreement that the
offer still stands and that we hope very much that despite this incident
and this incursion by North Korea, the North Koreans will agree that
it's in their interest to sit down with South Korea and the United
States and China and engage in four-party talks; that there is a need to
replace the Korean Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty, 43 years
after the end of the Korean War.
The conversation then came back to the submarine incident. Mr. Gong
explained the nature of the resolution that South Korea is introducing
in the Security Council, and that is to condemn North Korea and to urge
to desist from further provocations. This resolution they hoped would
cover the fact that the Armistice Agreement should remain in force and
should be enforced, and it would also encourage dialogue between the two
Secretary Christopher said very clearly, the United States will support
the South Koreans in the U.N. Security Council.
There was a brief discussion of the Status-of-Forces Agreement which is
a treaty being negotiated right now between the United States and South
Korea. We have not yet finished the work on that but they agreed that
ought to be done quickly.
Minister Gong said he hoped that the United States would support South
Korean's membership in the OECD -- the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development -- and Christopher said that the United
States strongly supports South Korea's membership in the OECD.
Following that, the meeting concluded. Let me go onto the Pangalos
meeting, and then I'll be glad to take questions on both meetings
together. That's probably easier, isn't it?
QUESTION: It's easier if we did one and then --
MR. BURNS: It's easier for you if we do the South Korean one. Okay,
QUESTION: Richardson, you said -- what does he want to do that we --
MR. BURNS: Pardon?
QUESTION: What did you say -- that Richardson wanted to press forward?
MR. BURNS: He was going to engage in some private discussions with
them. He was not going to be an emissary of the U.S. Government, but he
was going to make a private visit and talk about several issues.
Secretary Christopher felt very strongly, in light of this submarine
incident, it would not send the right signal to North Korea should
Congressman Richardson proceed with the visit. It would appear as
business-as-usual. That's not the kind of signal we want to send right
now to the North Koreans. We want to send a signal of great concern
about their actions and of unity with South Korea.
I think you saw the very strong public statement that Secretary
Christopher made. For those of you who are South Korean reporters or
reporting for South Korean news agencies, I hope that this public
statement that Secretary Christopher made will put to rest this
speculation in the South Korean press that somehow the United States has
a position of balance here, where we're calling on both Koreas to avoid
I was very clear. I have been clear. Secretary Christopher has been
clear that we are calling on North Korea to avoid provocations. The
Secretary hoped that that message was heard.
QUESTION: Nick, you said President Clinton raised the issue of KEDO
with the Japanese Prime Minister. Did Clinton ask for more money?
MR. BURNS: I just wanted to note that it had been raised this morning.
I don't want to go into any of the details, but it was raised.
QUESTION: But Japan is a major contributor.
MR. BURNS: Japan and the Republic of Korea, the two major contributors.
The United States is third, I believe, after them.
QUESTION: Nick, back to Richardson's mission. Was the status of any
POW/MIAs remains from the Korean War on his agenda?
MR. BURNS: That's something that he has talked to the North Koreans
about in the past. It's an issue of great concern to us. We do want to
move forward on it. It's certainly not appropriate for us to have a
U.S. military fact-finding team in North Korea this week given what's
happened with the submarine incident. At some point in the future we
will, of course, proceed with those visits because we owe it to the
American families of the missing from the Korean War. I believe there
are over 8,100 cases of Americans missing from the Korean War. We owe
it to them to proceed. But I think all of us believe that we ought to
perhaps not go forward with any kind of mission right now, and see what
QUESTION: So the answer is, yes, that was on his list?
MR. BURNS: Actually, I gave you the answer I wanted to give you. I
don't like one-word answers.
QUESTION: How long did the meeting last, please?
MR. BURNS: The meeting with Minister Gong lasted until about 4:50. You
all walked in at 4:00, and you spent about 10 minutes there, didn't you?
I can't quite remember how long you were there. So let's just probably
from about 4:10-4:15 to 4:50.
QUESTION: "Team Spirit" exercises come up, resuming those?
MR. BURNS: That came up in the press conference. The Koreans indicated
there is no formal Korean Government position on whether or not those
exercises should be resumed -- "Team Spirit" is what they're called.
They haven't be held since 1992, as you know.
There was a statement out of the Korean Defense Agency about this but it
was not confirmed by either the President's office or the Foreign
Ministry. So the United States has not been asked to resume "Team
Spirit," the U.S.-ROK military exercises.
QUESTION: Did they discuss a trilateral meeting --
MR. BURNS: Yes, they did. In fact, Winston Lord, who was at the
meeting, confirmed that he will be meeting with his South Korean and
Japanese counterparts here in New York on Thursday.
QUESTION: Did the South Koreans share any evidence of what the motive
was for this latest incursion, or sharing any evidence with you?
MR. BURNS: The motive is harder. I think that the South Koreans have
been very effective in convincing us and, indeed, everybody that these
lame excuses of the North Koreans are really groundless. The North
Koreans said the sub just drifted into South Korean waters when, in
fact, I think President Kim said today that actually the currents off
the coast there are northward-flowing currents and that the submarine,
when it was boarded by the South Korean military authorities, had an
intact engine. The submarine had simply grounded. I think the
propeller and the bottom of the sub showed some damage because of the
accidental, apparently, grounding but that the engine of that submarine
was in good, working order. Therefore, this baseless excuse -- this
base excuse, I should say -- that somehow this sub had gone adrift is
simply without foundation.
So we very much side with South Korea. We understand the depth of
sentiment in South Korea. South Korea has actually had to suffer many
different military incursions over the last several decades by the North
Koreans. A lot of South Koreans have been killed in those incursions.
I think Minister Gong was very effective in relaying to us just how
emotional this issue is, not just from a political standpoint in South
Korea but from a personal standpoint. Members of the South Korean
Government have lost -- officials of the South Korean Government have
lost family members to some of these raids in the past.
I think we have to be very mindful of the concerns that everybody in
South Korea has, not just the government but the population, about what
the North is doing. These are reckless, provocative acts.
I think it's the clear will of all of the international community that
North Korea should suspend them. There is no support for North Korea
anywhere in the world as a result of this incident.
QUESTION: Nick, did they say that they had actually gained information
from the man that they captured --
MR. BURNS: Minister Gong did not review for us what they had learned
from the one North Korean who was alive. But I think we have received
some information about that in military channels in Korea itself, but
that wasn't related at the meeting.
As for motive -- let me just go back, Stan, to your question. Your
guess is as good as ours, and I think anyone's. It's hard to fathom the
motives of the North Korean leadership, which is an extremely opaque
MR. BURNS: Okay, Greece. Minister Pangalos and the Secretary met. The
Secretary was very glad to see him because he wanted to congratulate him
personally on the victory of Prime Minister Simitis, and also
congratulate Minister Pangalos on his reappointment as Foreign Minister
They began by discussing the significance of the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty. The Secretary made the point that this is going to be a
profoundly important treaty for everyone. Because if you can't test --
and now, it's the clear intention of the international community that no
country should test in the future -- that it will be impossible, really,
for non-nuclear countries that aspire to be nuclear to go nuclear, or
threshold countries that want to go nuclear, really impossible for them
to become a fully nuclear country because they won't be able to test the
quality and the reliability of their weapons. That's a very good thing.
So Secretary Christopher felt that today's signing of the CTB -- and he
relayed this to Mr. Pangalos -- was actually one of the most important
events that the United States has participated in in quite a long time.
The benefits of this are going to be felt around the world, not just by
the American people but by people all over the world.
He congratulated the Minister on a decisive victory which he said had
surprised some of the pundits. We had heard, those of us in the U.S.
Government, this would be a very close race. It was obviously a hard-
fought race. But the margin of victory perhaps surprised some.
They talked about relations with Turkey. As you can imagine, that issue
often comes up with the Greeks and Americans get together.
Minister Pangalos gave a very long description of some of his
conversations with Turkish Government officials, including the previous
Foreign Minister in the previous Turkish Government. He wanted
Secretary Christopher to have his appreciation for Greek-Turkish
relations and the problems in that relationship.
Minister Pangalos also raised the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia and the negotiations and conversations that continue
between that government and Greece about the name of that government. I
think all of you know about that. There was a good and detailed
conversation about that. I won't go into that in too much detail
because you're not interested, I'm sure, on that.
On Aegean issues, Secretary Christopher said that he thought it was
important for the United States to help lead a new effort to resolve
some of the Aegean problems between Greece and Turkey. He noted that
Ambassador Albright and Under Secretary Peter Tarnoff would be closely
involved in that.
On Cyprus, the Secretary said that we were very disturbed to see the
renewed violence -- killing of Greek Cypriots and of Turkish soldiers on
Cyprus. Ambassador Dick Beattie, the President's Special
Representative, is here in New York. The Secretary will be seeing him
this week. The Secretary hoped that the United States could also be
more active now, now that the Greek elections are concluded, on the
question of Cyprus, working with the Greek and Turkish Governments and
the communities on Cyprus.
The Secretary said he would be seeing President Gligorov. That will
happen tomorrow afternoon, by the way, and there will be further
discussions on the Balkans and on Greek-Balkan relations.
I think in all respects this is a very positive meeting between the two.
It was a short meeting; had to limit it to about 25 minutes because the
Secretary now has gone on to another event, but a good and productive
QUESTION: Nick, I don't know if this came up because you started
promptly 20 minutes before some of us thought you were supposed to
start, so some of us didn't hear most of your brief.
Is it the U.S. view -- if this came up, please don't bother answering it
-- but is it the U.S. view that the suspension of South Korean-U.S.
joint military exercises is linked in any way to the nuclear agreement?
And does the U.S. fear that if the exercises are resumed, the nuclear
ban may be put in jeopardy?
MR. BURNS: No. I think the nuclear agreement is going to go forward
regardless because it's in the interest of all of us, including the
North Koreans, to adhere fully and completely to the nuclear agreement.
It's one of the most important issues that we've been involved with in
Asia and north Asia. We put a lot of effort into it. No matter what
happens here, in the aftermath of the incident with the submarine, we
expect that North Korea will continue to adhere to the Agreed Framework.
I'm not aware of any strict linkage here.
Barry, it's important to note that the South Koreans have not requested
a resumption of the U.S.-ROK military exercises. No request was made in
the meeting today. I think Minister Gong was very clear in the Press
Conference that there has been some talk in Seoul about this but nothing
formal from the South Korean Government. So at this point, it remains a
QUESTION: This was all clear to most of us, too -- probably all of us -
- because we heard what he said. What we're trying to figure out is why
the Koreans are doing such an awkward back-flip from what the Defense
Ministry said in Seoul today and whether the United States shares their
views entirely. I know you both don't think it was nice of the North
Koreans to send a submarine into South Korean waters. I don't know if
you're willing, or if you see a risk to the nuclear agreement if joint
military exercises -- and if they're beginning to see a risk that they
don't want to take. I don't suppose you could explain their flip-flop?
MR. BURNS: No.
QUESTION: At least, I can get the U.S.'s views.
MR. BURNS: No, I can't account for statements made in Seoul. I can
just tell you that the United States will go forward with the Agreed
Framework. I'm not aware of any exact linkage here. Obviously, we'll
cooperate with the South Koreans in any way that we deem necessary to
deal with the aftermath of this submarine incident.
But right now no one is talking about military exercises.
QUESTION: If I may ask about the Greek Foreign Minister's meeting. You
said that Secretary Christopher said it's important for the U.S. to lead
a new effort in the Aegean?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: Can you give us a concrete idea of what this is going to be?
MR. BURNS: I probably prefer not to. He was quite general with the
Minister. I think this is welcomed by both Turkey and Greece. Both of
them want the United States to be involved. The Secretary said that
Greece and Turkey are good allies of the United States. If we can be
helpful in trying to resolve the many problems in the Aegean, we would
do so, and we intend to.
QUESTION: Would that take a form of a meeting, a joint meeting between
the Greek Prime Minister, the Turkish Prime Minister, and President
Clinton, for example? Is it at that level?
MR. BURNS: No decisions have been made. The Secretary and the Minister
did not go into detail on that. It was a general discussion.
QUESTION: Are you happy with Mr. Pangalos' views on this issue?
MR. BURNS: On Aegean issues? He gave us his view of the Aegean
disputes between Greece and Turkey. The United States does not take
sides. We don't support one side against the other. We try to use our
good relationship with both Greece and Turkey to get them to work
together and to compromise on these issues. I want to be very clear
here. We're not siding with Greece against Turkey or Turkey against
Greece. We're standing in the middle as a friend to both, and we hope
to use our friendship with both to see them through to progress, if
QUESTION: Did they talk about Bosnia at all?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
QUESTION: They didn't talk about Bosnia for 25 minutes?
MR. BURNS: No.
QUESTION: Did the question of the EU and Turkey come up?
MR. BURNS: No, that did not come up. The United States has a very
well-known position on that issue. We stand by all the remarks that
we've made over the last week on that particular issue. We believe that
Turkey should be tied to the European Union. We believe that the
European Union should remain open to Turkey despite what some others may
QUESTION: The Greek-Turkish dispute on Cyprus and the new violence
(inaudible). Anybody link this to the election?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I think it's hard because some of the violent
incidents appear not to be connected with one another. It's hard to
draw a general reason for the violence. I can't link them to the
election, except to say it's profoundly disappointing to see. We have
spoken out quite strongly against -- we spoke out quite strongly against
the murder of the young Greek Cypriot who was trying to take down a flag
from a flagpole. We thought that was just inadmissible that he would be
killed for that action.
We were equally strong in condemning the murder of the Turkish soldier.
We hope the murderers of both of these people will be brought to justice
QUESTION: In anybody's view, would the U.N. peacekeeping force in
Cyprus (inaudible) there, doing anything to keep these two sides apart?
MR. BURNS: The U.N. is doing its best. But this is a particularly
divisive conflict. It's really impossible for any peacekeeping force,
no matter how good it is, to prevent all kinds of violence. It's really
up to the communities themselves to prevent the violence and to the
Greek and Turkish Governments to take the proper responsibility to see
that these problems are resolved.
QUESTION: If I may follow up. You said now that the Greek elections
are over, the U.S. will be more active also on the Cyprus front?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
QUESTION: In other words, even before the American elections are over.
Somebody will go there; something will happen between now and the
MR. BURNS: On this issue, as on the Aegean issue, Secretary Christopher
did not name dates of meetings and did not make specific suggestions.
He suggested to Minister Pangalos that now is a good time to proceed
with renewed diplomatic efforts on both the Aegean and on Cyprus.
Minister Pangalos agreed.
I believe we also, from our conversation with Mrs. Ciller yesterday
morning, have a Turkish agreement that we ought to try to see what we
can do on both fronts. It's good to see that both the Greeks and Turks
agree on that. But this being Cyprus and the Aegean, we are realistic.
We know that progress will not come easily. We know that starting out
is a first step but it does not necessarily lead to the complete
resolution of all the problems. So we're going to be realistic here.
QUESTION: I understand you correctly, then, in saying that you have the
willingness to help but there's nothing concrete to announce at this
MR. BURNS: We intend to move forward to talk with both about the
problems in both areas. We do. We're just not announcing any specific
meetings or dates or times or our participants.
QUESTION: Do you believe that the Cyprus problem is a part of the
general package of the Aegean problems, and it will be handled together?
MR. BURNS: No, that's not how we've approached it. Ambassador Beattie,
the President's Special Representative, is actually devoted solely to
the Cyprus problem. The Aegean issues are handled separately.
Sometimes you can say there might be overlap, but actually we do handle
them separately in our own mind.
QUESTION: You named Ambassador Albright --
MR. BURNS: And Under Secretary Peter Tarnoff. Yes.
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