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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhang Qiyue Holds a Press Conference at the Press Center of the Six-Party Talks

2004/06/25

At 6:40 p.m. June 23rd, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhang Qiyue Held a press conference at the Press Center of the Six-Party Talks at the Diaoyutai State Guest House, where she briefed the journalists from home and abroad on the first-day meeting of the Third Round of Six-Party Talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and took questions from the press. This is the first press conference since the launch of the Third Round of Six-Party Talks, which nearly 200 foreign and Chinese journalists attended.

Zhang Qiyue: Journalist friends, first of all, welcome you to attend the press conference at the Press Center of the Beijing Six-Party Talks. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my special welcome to those who have made their special trip to Beijing from abroad for the coverage of the talks.

Today's meeting was held from 3:00 to 6:25pm. The opening ceremony of the talks has been broadcasted live by CCTV and you have already listened to the speeches delivered by the heads of all the delegations, on which I will not brief you here.

Following the ceremony was the plenary meeting. The first item on its agenda was the report by Chair of the Working Group for the Six-Party Talks Ambassador Ning Fukui on the Working Group Meeting. After Ning's speech, all heads of the delegations made their comments on that meeting, and aired views on how to bring the Working Group Meeting to a success. All parties hold that the Working Group Meeting is conducive and of great significance to further deepening the peace talk process, and that it has prepared well for the Third Round of Six-Party Talks. All parties thanked the staff of the Working Group for their hard work.

Following the first item, the talks entered substantive discussions. The heads of the DPRK, US and ROK delegations made their respective speeches.

In sum, there are three features in the meeting today. First, it was held in an earnest and pragmatic manner. All parties have shown active attitudes and indicated their willingness to cooperate with each other in the process of the talks so as to contribute to its progress. Second, all parties maintained this meeting should make headway. The US delegation pointed out that it's the ripe time now to go beyond elaboration of the general positions and make headway on substantive issues. The DPRK delegation noted that the deadlock should be broken, to which the DPRK would like to make contribution. The ROK delegation indicated that this round of talks should carry out all-round and substantive discussions, quoting the saying of "where there is a will, there is a way". The Russian delegation said that the Six-Party Talks have already shown positive momentum and all parties should continue their efforts for further progress. Third, the delegations have all prepared their proposals to put forward at the meeting. Today the DPRK, US and ROK delegations have put forward their proposals. If we say the achievements of the previous round of talks initiated the discussions on substantive issues, then such discussions have already been conducted during this round of talks.

Today's meeting was just a start and other delegations haven't got the time to make their speeches yet. They will continue discussions on substantive issues tomorrow.

During the meeting, all parties expressed welcome for the arrival of the newly appointed head of the Russian delegation and condemned the killing of the ROK hostage in Iraq and the terror attack in the Republic of Ingushia of the Russian Federation.

This evening, head of the Chinese delegation and Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold a welcome reception for the delegations of all parties.

Now I would like to take your questions.

Q: At the opening ceremony today, the DPRK indicated that if the US gave up the stance of complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID), the DPRK will agree to "freezing vs. compensation". What's the US' response to this? (China Daily)

A: The US delegation is the second to give its speech at the meeting this afternoon and at the very beginning it stressed the speech was not a response to the DPRK' proposal. However, the US delegation also indicated it would earnestly study the DPRK proposal.

Q: Did the meeting this afternoon make any reference to the widely concerned issue of highly enriched uranium? At the opening ceremony, head of the US delegation James Kelly mentioned that he would submit the US proposal during the talks. Has he ever raised it? (Jinghua Times)

A: The US delegation has put forward a specific proposal on resolving the current nuclear issue in its speech. As to the specific content of the proposal, because all parties now have just offered their proposals and the talks are still under way, I am not in a position to comment these. Of course, if you want to know the specific proposal by the US, you can refer it to the US delegation.

Q: At the opening ceremony, the head of the Japanese delegation noted that this round of talks is an opportunity to test out the Six-Party Mechanism. What's your remark on such a view? After the first two rounds of Six-Party Talks, the journalists from home and abroad covering this round of talks become somewhat fewer. Besides some uncertain factors, is there any reason related to the talks itself. (Oriental Morning Post in Shanghai)

A: As for your first question, the speech by the Japanese delegation actually has fully shown the will of Japan and other sides to make the talks progress forward.

I don't think the journalists covering this round of talks are fewer than the previous ones. I can brief you on this issue. The Chinese and foreign journalists enrolled at the Press Center have totaled more than 500. Because no special credential is needed if you want to attend such activities as a press conference, the real number of the journalists covering the talks should be far more than 500. According to my knowledge, since CCTV broadcasted live the opening ceremony, which many journalists stayed in their offices to watch, they are not present at the scene. The Third Round of Six-Party Talks is attracting the close attention of the media from home and abroad, and still remains the focus for the public attention. The Chinese delegation hopes all parties will further enhance mutual understanding, expand consensus and narrow differences based on the achievements of the previous two rounds of talks in order to push the peace talk process forward.

Q: Does China plan to forge a document following the talks? (Asahi Shimbun)

A: Today the meeting has just kicked off; therefore currently it's too early to predict whether this round will produce a document. The Chinese delegation would like to work along with other parties to push the peace talks for progress.

Q: The DPRK and the US today raised their respective proposals. Is there any change of principle in both sides' proposals? Have the stances of the two sides got closer? (Interfax)

A: As I have said just now, the DPRK, US and ROK delegations all submitted their own proposals. We should say each proposal contains much content and demonstrates the positive attitudes of the parties to seek the resolution of the issue. Of course, I have stressed time and again that the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is a much complex one. In the process of its resolution all parties hold different views. The differences are still there. Yet, the fact that all parties put forward their specific proposals is a kind of progress in itself and shows the talks is going deeper. In the interest of time, today only three delegations made speeches on substantive issues. The talks will continue tomorrow.

Q: What are the differences between the proposals from the DPRK, the US and the ROK? Did they touch upon the issue of highly enriched uranium? (Associated Press)

A: Currently it is hard for us to make any remarks on specific proposals. All the three proposals contain much content and all parties indicated they would reflect on and study them earnestly.

Q: You said the US, the DPRK and the ROK all raised their respective proposals. Will China submit its own proposal tomorrow? (Agence France Press)

A: The Chinese delegation will study specific proposals that the delegations submitted today. Generally speaking, China will continue its efforts to promote the peace talks through good offices. China will try to do any work that is beneficial to the promotion of the peace talk process.

Since you are going to put your news stories to print immediately, that is all for today's press conference. Thank you!

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