U.S. State Department Geographic Bureaus: East Asia and Pacific Bureau

DECEMBER 9, 1994



MS. SHELLY: I'd like to introduce Thomas Hubbard, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs who will brief you on the talks this week with North Korea on issues relating to the opening of Liaison Offices.

Mr. Hubbard's responsibility include relations with Korea and Japan as well as with the ASEAN countries and Burma. He has been working intensively on the North Korean nuclear issue with Ambassador Gallucci and participated in the Geneva talks with the DPRK.

Prior to his present assignment, for those of you who do not know Mr. Hubbard, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at our Embassies in the Philippines and Malaysia and has held a number of other positions in our missions in East Asia and in the EAP Bureau in Washington, including Director of our Japan Desk.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: Thank you, Christine. As I think all of you know, the North Koreans have been here this week for expert talks on the issues involved in establishing Liaison Offices between our two countries.

These have been expert-level talks, headed on our side by Lynn Turk who works with me in the East Asia Bureau as Coordinator for North Korean Affairs, and the head of the North Korean delegation was Mr. Pak Sok-gyun, Deputy Director of the American Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pyongyang.

This is, of course, the first official North Korean delegation to come to Washington for government-to-government talks with the U.S. Government. The talks took place in furtherance of the agreement in our Agreed Framework with the North Koreans, agreed in October, that the two sides would establish liaison offices in respective capitals once expert-level talks have resolved the consular and other technical issues involved in establishing those offices.

The talks this week have been cooperative and constructive. The two sides have made substantial progress on the outstanding consular and other technical issues involved in establishing the liaison offices. The talks are still ongoing. They will conclude later this afternoon, and we expect to get something further out on the results at that time.

We do expect to conclude these talks today. The next step in the process will be a return visit by a U.S. team, again probably headed by Lynn Turk, to Pyongyang to survey possible sites for a Liaison Office and continue the discussions. We would expect thereafter a North Korean team to come back to Washington for a similar purpose.

As you know, we had a team in Pyongyang to begin these discussions back in September. Be pleased to answer any questions.

Q Sir, how has the tough stance by Senator Jesse Helms and Representative Ben Gilman and the other Republicans towards the Korea accord, demanding that they were going to have a closer insight onto the Accord and maybe attach conditions -- how is that going to affect the progress of these talks? And, if they try to attach further conditionality to the accord, will it damage the accord?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: Of course, any conditionality attached to the accord would damage our prospects for implementing it. There are a whole variety of aspects in the accord. Judging from the comments I've heard to date, the issue of liaison offices does not seem as controversial as some of the others that have been raised.

Q What were the areas of agreement and disagreement? And what the immediate results of the talks?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: We have reached agreement by and large on the consular issues involved in establishing these offices. The consular issues relate to our ability to protect American citizens who may be visiting North Korea or the North Korean ability to protect their citizens that might be visiting the United States -- procedures related to what happens when someone is arrested, what happens when someone runs into an accident, and all that.

We by and large reached agreement on these consular issues, so that our two liaison offices can function in those areas. Further technical issues involve just how do you support liaison offices? What kind of communications can they have? What kind of facilities will they have for sending pouches and for entry and exit, and all of that. We've also reached agreement on most of those issues. Property is a big remaining issue to resolve.

Q So the North Koreans have expressed a willingness to allow American tourists to go to North Korea and vice versa? That's been part of these talks?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: The talks really haven't dealt with that question. The talks have dealt more with how we would deal with them in cases where there are tourists present. For example, Americans wishing to visit the DPRK have to have visas. Once they get there, how would we ensure that they are protected under all rights given to them under North Korean law and vice versa. We haven't really talked about expanding tourism.

Q You are preparing for tourist visits -- reciprocal tourist visits, clearly?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: Certainly, those would be contemplated. I'm not aware of a whole lot of North Korean tourism in the world, and I'm also not aware of a whole lot of Americans wishing to visit North Korea as tourists. But certainly we're putting in place a framework under which that could occur.

Q Do you have a date for when the U.S. team would go to Pyongyang on site survey? And related to that, is there a time frame for opening up the liaison offices?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: No. Again, in the Agreed Framework, we undertook to establish those offices when we have resolved the consular and other technical mattes involved. I expect the team to go out some time in the first quarter of next year to Pyongyang. I would expect we would also have a North Korean team here sometime in that time frame if they succeed in resolving the issues. And finding property to set up shop and the actual establishment would follow.

Q Mr. Hubbard, what was the -- how would you describe the tone, the relations between the two expert groups? How would you describe this step as proceeding and progressing to fulfill the agreement from October? And then finally did you have any discussions at all or any insight as to the relations between North Korea and their talks with the South that might be an adjunct to this?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: As I say, the talks have been cooperative and constructive. These have been expert talks, by and large. The talks have dealt with rather technical issues, but both sides have addressed those issues with a will to get the job done and move forward with their task, and to implement the Agreed Framework.

We have taken the occasion of the presence of the North Korean representatives to raise some of the other issues that are of concern to us, and one very large issue for us is the fate of North-South discussions between the two Koreas. We took the occasion of this visit to underscore to the North Koreans the importance of North-South dialogue if we're to succeed in implementing this overall framework. Of course, the Framework calls for North-South dialogue.

Q Are there any other -- while you're on that subject, are there any other issues that you did bring up that you'd like to tell us about?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: I think we exchanged our mutual interest in implementing the entire range of issues involved in the Agreed Framework. We assured the North Koreans that we expect to fulfill that Framework, and that we expect them to do also.

We took the occasion also to begin to raise some other issues of difficulty to us -- to flag such things as their missile exports as problems that will loom as our relationship moves forward.

Q There are two issues that Mr. Gallucci wanted to address. One of them was to ensure that U.S. diplomats have the same freedom there as Korean diplomats would have here. Did you resolve that? And the other was, would they come directly through South Korea, perhaps by way of car, up to North Korea, or would they have to go through Beijing? Did you resolve those two issues?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: On the first issue, of course, our whole principle in all of our bilateral relations is reciprocity, so that we would expect to grant to the North Koreans privileges and access here that are equivalent to those that they grant us in Pyongyang.

We would, of course, like to expand the scope of those privileges and access, and I think that will be a continuing subject of discussion. But there will be reciprocity.

I don't want to get into all of the details of exactly what was agreed. As Mr. Gallucci said, we would like over time to be in a position to actually transit the DMZ -- have our people go in that way and come out that way. The North Koreans pointed out that they don't grant that right to any other country in North Korea; that they'd have to consider that very carefully. So that will go forward as an issue that is not resolved.

Q What will be the initial level of representation in the liaison offices?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: The level of representation will be the lowest allowed under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The head of each office will be known as Head of Liaison Office rather than by any other title.

Q Since you raised the issue of missile exports, did you also raise the other issues that have been listed as of U.S. concern but not part of the nuclear agreement, which would be terrorism, troops along the DMZ and human rights?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: These have not been issues for the formal discussions over the consular issues, but indeed in our various social events and side talks we've raised all of these issues.

Q I'd like to confirm if you said the Liaison Office between -- two countries will open within March next year?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: No, I didn't say that. I said I expected that in the first quarter of next year, by the end of March, that we will have sent another team to look at sites in Pyongyang; that the North Koreans will probably have sent another team to Washington to look at sites, and that at some point thereafter, assuming all issues are resolved and once we find property and are able to set them up, then we would actually establish the offices. But I'm not making any prediction as to when that would occur.

Q When do you think the next expert meeting will resume?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: In Pyongyang, sometime in the early part of next year.

Q Is all of this contingent upon the entire framework agreement coming together, or is this on a separate track? In other words, if Senator Helms and others raise objections to the nuclear agreement, would that put all this in jeopardy?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: We are determined to implement the entire Agreed Framework, and we believe we have very good answers to the questions that Senator Helms and others might ask, and that the overall agreement is in our interests and is in the interest of peace and security in the region.

The Agreed Framework itself has various time phasing for doing different things, and one of the things we said we would do was that if we can resolve the consular and other technical matters, we would move forward and establish liaison offices. So long as both sides are faithfully implementing all aspects of the Agreed Framework, I think that will take place.

Q Did they raise questions with you along the margins or in any way about this new political climate in Washington and what it would mean for the framework?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: They have expressed -- they have obviously read the newspapers. They've heard some of the questions. They, as you can imagine, are interested observers of the American political scene as it affects this Framework, we all made it very clear to them that the U.S. Government intends to fulfill the Framework and expects them to do the same.

If I could just take this opportunity. Various elements of the Agreed Framework will be implemented as they come up. But a first important aspect of that was for the DPRK to reach agreement with the IAEA on the means and methods by which they would monitor the freeze on the nuclear facilities that the DPRK agreed to freeze.

You may have noted in the wire services today that Director General Blix of the IAEA has indicated substantial satisfaction with the way the talks have gone between North Korea and the IAEA. He has indicated that they have resolved most of the issues involved in setting up their system for monitoring the freeze. They expect to have further talks in January to resolve remaining issues. I think that's very good news.

Q Has the Administration already started trying to reassure the Hill about all these issues?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: Yes, indeed. As you know, Bob Gallucci was up on the Hill for hearings the other day. We've been briefing staff, and then we're ready to talk to those on the Hill as soon as we have an opportunity.

Q If I could follow up on that. Another part of the agreement that was supposed to be implemented soon is, the U.S. is supposed to take actions on telecommunications and banking in the first three months. Did you discuss that with the North Koreans? And what can we expect on that?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: What we said actually in the Agreed Framework was that we would reduce the various economic, financial, and communications restrictions that have been placed on North Korea. We will do that. We haven't decided exactly which restrictions will be lifted exactly when. But, indeed, we will fulfill our commitment to reduce restrictions within three months of the agreement.

Q Have you agreed on just what limits there will be on the movement of diplomats in both countries?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: That's one of the issues that is coming up right now that will be discussed later this afternoon.

The North Koreans do restrict travel by all diplomats in the DPRK. We've indicated that we would like to have the ability to travel both to -- accept our responsibilities to implement this framework agreement as well as to be able to take care of Americans who might be visiting.

As I said earlier, we'll give them reciprocal access. It will not be entirely free. There will be some restrictions on it.

Q To follow. This particular visit to Washington, are there limitations? What is their reaction to being in Washington?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: I think they have found a warm welcome here. We have tried to give them a warm welcome. We've had good cooperative talks. We've had a number of opportunities to talk at social events. I will be hosting a farewell dinner for them this evening. They will be leaving tomorrow.

We've given them a chance to sightsee a bit. They've had a chance to look at some properties. We hope they will go back to Pyongyang with a good appreciation of American society.

Q How did they travel here physically? By plane, by car?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: They flew here, of course, from Pyongyang via New York. We have been giving them transportation here in Washington.

Q These are not New York-based diplomats?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: No. These are diplomats -- one New York-based diplomat is here, but the leader of their delegation and three of the other members came here from Pyongyang.

Q You said that this is the first North Korean delegation that came here for official government-to-government talks?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: That's correct. Of course, they have their mission in New York at the U.N. We've had a lot of talks with them up there. Members of their mission at the U.N. occasionally have come to Washington for things like the National Prayer Breakfast and other academic events.

There have been visitors from Pyongyang for academic events as well as part of international delegations. But this is the first time we've actually had a government-to-government group.

Q What kind of funding is needed to establish the Liaison Office? Will extra funding be requested or needed for it? And is it therefore subject to freezing if the Senate wants to block it?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: I really don't have a good answer for you on that. I don't believe we will need to go to Congress for extra funds to establish the Liaison Office. Certainly, Congress can block whatever it wishes. We think it would be tremendous mistake to block this. The liaison offices are an integral part of this Framework we have with North Korea that addresses some very serious problems.

The liaison offices themselves will give us opportunities to press issues of concern to us, as we've said, like missiles and terrorism and human rights. We think it will be good. It will serve U.S. interest to have those offices. So both in terms of the overall Framework and for the good that these offices can bring us, we think it would be a big mistake to block it.

Q You mentioned about reciprocity, the way the diplomats will be treated. If the North Koreans want to put restrictions on our diplomats, how would you go about doing that on theirs here?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: Again, I wouldn't want to try to get into the technical aspects of that. We have an Office of Foreign Missions. We across-the-board insist on reciprocity. For example, if country "X" applies travel restrictions or applies restrictions on the ability of our dependents to work overseas, we apply similar restrictions here. We have mechanisms for doing that.

Q A couple of technical questions. You talk about the minimum level under the Geneva Protocols. Could you tell us, what's that level? Also, about the restriction for physical travel in each country, what is the present limitation applied by North Korea? If that's the case of 40 kilometers, does it mean every time a U.S. diplomats want to go to Yongbyon, they will have to apply for permission to go there?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: I don't want to get into all of the details on exactly what kind of restrictions are applied. Suffice it to say that we are asking for the kind of access we believe we need to carry out the Agreed Framework as well as to protect our citizens.

In saying that, we are establishing relations at the lowest level allowed by the 1961 Vienna Convention. A key point to focus on is the fact that we will not have an ambassador. We will have a Head of Liaison Office. These will be diplomatic officials but now at full ambassadorial level.

The chiefs of the liaison offices will not be accredited by the respective heads of state as is the case with full diplomatic relations, but by the Secretary of State, in our case, and by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK.

Q What's the number of people involved?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: We haven't worked out precisely the number, but it will be very small.

Q Have the North Koreans raised the issue of signing a peace treaty with the United States? Or if they have, what was your reaction to it?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: The North Koreans often raise that issue with us. Our answer every time they raise is that they should talk to the ROK about that; that they agreed in 1992 that the North and South would discuss replacing the current armistice with a peace treaty. They agreed that the armistice would remain in place until a peace treaty is negotiated.

Our position is that the North should, in the first instance, talk to the South. That's one more reason why it is so important that a North-South dialogue be started. We're prepared to be supportive but the main actors are the two Koreas.

Q Did the North Koreans ask for any special financing to purchase this mission? Or are they going to lease it, and did the U.S. say they would consider it?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: They haven't asked for it. I think it's natural that each country pay for its own diplomatic missions abroad.

Q Did the North Koreans raise any concerns or suspicions that the liaison office would be used for intelligence-gathering?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: No, I have not heard that subject at all.

Q After opening the liaison office, did the North Koreans agree that United States diplomats could cross the military demarcation line to go to Seoul?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: That is an issue that is still under discussion. That is a request that we have made. I do not expect that to be resolved at this time.

Q Republican Senators have asked about the fate of 8,000 missing servicemen from the Korean war. Was this brought up at all during the period of these talks?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: Yes. We have noted to them our concern over that issue and our wish to find effective mechanisms for resolving it.

Q Was their response sympathetic?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: The officials who were here this time, I don't think were well briefed on the subject; were not competent to address it, but they realize how important it is to us.

Q Mr. Secretary, can you share with us any updated information on the provision of the heavy oil? When is the first shipment to North Korea?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: We agreed that the first shipment would be made by January 21, 1995.

Q Specifically, before the end of this year or early next year?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: We agreed that it would be provided within three months of the signing of the Agreed Framework. That's January 21. I think it will be next year.

Q What was their response regarding the missile issue that you raised? Did they come back with a response?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: They did not. Again, I think the official who is here is not responsible for those matters. But I do expect that we will have on-going discussions of that subject.

Q What was (inaudible) question?


Q Is that the shipment on U.S. ships?


Q Do you have an guarantees of their activities in Pyongyang?

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: They will have the standard diplomatic privileges and immunities that flow from the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Thank you.


Return to the Electronic Research Collection East Asia and Pacific Bureau Home Page

Return to the Electronic Research Collection Geographic Bureaus Home Page

Visit the Electronic Research Collection Home Page

Go to the U.S. State Department Home Page

To top of page