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Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi Hosts a Press Conference in the Media Center for the Six-Party Talks

2004/06/26

Head of the Chinese Delegation to the Third Round of Six-Party Talks and Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted a press conference in the media center for the six-party talks at 11:30 am on June 26, 2004.

Wang Yi: Dear friends, good morning!

As an important step toward the goal of denuclearization, the Third Round of Six-Party Talks has witnessed new consensuses based on the consolidation of previous progress. The main achievements of this round of talks include:

First, each party has put forward its own proposals and plans for the solution of the issue. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) expressed its willingness to give up all projects related to nuclear weapons in a transparent manner and would like to accept inspections to this end, stressing nuclear freezing is merely the first step of nuclear abandonment. The DPRK also put forward a concrete plan for the implementation of nuclear freezing for the first time. The United States reiterated that it would not adopt any hostile policies to the DPRK and worked out a comprehensive plan for the complete resolution of the nuclear issue for the first time. The Republic of Korea (ROK), for the first time, mapped out a concrete proposition on the implementation of the first steps of nuclear abandonment. Japan expressed its willingness, for the first time, to participate in the energy assistance move for the nuclear freezing in DPRK under certain conditions. China and Russia have also proposed important plans and suggestions on the promotion of the peace-talk process and the resolution of difficult questions. The proposals and plans result from the efforts of all parties during the past year or more since the talks were launched and demonstrate the active political will of all parties in promoting the peace-talk process.

Second, the parties have reached consensus on the first steps of nuclear abandonment. All parties agreed that to implement nuclear freezing and adopt relevant measures to that end is the first step toward nuclear abandonment. They welcomed the commitment made by the DPRK side for this purpose and have responded positively to various degrees. The parties also agreed to authorize the Working Group to convene a meeting as early as possible to discuss the scope, duration, verification and corresponding measures of nuclear freezing. This will help deepen future substantive discussions and promote the process of denuclearization.

Third, the parties agreed to seek peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue step by step in the principle of "words for words" and "action for action". Based on the agreement by all parties to adopt coordinated and consistent steps, this consensus further identifies and improves the way to resolve the issue and the principles to abide by.

Fourth, the parties reviewed the Concept Paper on the Working Group which identifies the responsibilities and operation models of the Working Group. This will help the Working Group work in a more effective, regulated and pragmatic manner.

Fifth, the parties agreed in principle on the date of the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks and issued the second Chairman's Statement, signaling the process of the six-party talks will be continued.

Generally speaking, this round of talks is featured by peaceful atmosphere, substantial contents and in-depth discussions. It is positive and pragmatic and reflects the spirits of mutual respect, equality and consultations. While putting forward their own solution proposals, the parties also showed respect for each other's plans. For instance, the DPRK said it would carefully study the comprehensive plan raised by the US, and the US also promised to carefully look into the DPRK scheme. Besides, the US side held that there are elements in common between the DPRK and its own proposals, which will become an important basis on which the talks can further proceed until an eventual resolution of nuclear issue.

This round of talks was held at a time when the peace talks entered a critical stage. As the host country China is delighted to see the progress achieved. The hard-won progress has not only consolidated the achievements made so far, but paved the way for future talks, which should be cherished by all.

Meanwhile, we clearly understand that the nuclear issue is highly complicated and there is still a serious lack of mutual trust between relevant parties. The basis of the talks is not solid enough, and there are still a number of differences and even opposing ideas on the scope and means of the abandonment, freezing and corresponding measures. We should be fully aware of and remain ready for the fact that it would be inevitable for us to encounter various difficulties and even twists and turns with the talks going increasingly in-depth. However, I believe that with the extensive support from the governments and peoples of the six nations, as well as from the international community, the goal of denuclearization is irreversible, so is the process of peace talks and the historical trend on the peninsula toward peace and stability.

China will continue to actively mediate with an objective and fair stance and work for the peace, security and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and the region.

Now I would like to take your questions:

1. This round of talks has achieved positive progress, but we need to note that there are still some differences. What are the major difficulties for the promotion of the peace-talk process according to the Chinese side? (Xinhua News Agency)

There are two major difficulties: 1. The scope and means of nuclear abandonment; 2. The scope of nuclear freezing and corresponding measures. The parties, particularly the US and the DPRK, still hold very different views on these two issues. However, this round of talks has shown that the differences between different parties have been gradually narrowed. Take nuclear abandonment as an example. The US has indicated, for the first time, that it hoped the DPRK could abandon all nuclear projects in a permanent, comprehensive and transparent manner. The DPRK indicated for the first time that it could abandon all nuclear weapons and relevant projects. It is not difficult to see that the stands of the two sides are getting closer. In terms of freezing, the DPRK noted that nuclear freezing is the first step toward nuclear abandonment and pledged to accept inspections to that end. China, Russia, the ROK and Japan would like to adopt simultaneous actions to address the concerns of the DPRK. The US also indicated that it would study the requirements of the DPRK. The other side of difficulty is hope. The process of solving difficulties is also a process to turn hopes into realities. As long as we keep on the peace-talk process, we will be able to solve any difficulty and realize all hopes.

2. Why did not we see the expression "nuclear freezing" all through the Chairman's Statement? (TV Asahi)

The Chairman's Statement is to collect the consensus acceptable to all parties. I would like to stress that each paragraph of the Chairman's Statement was fully authorized by the governments of the six parties after serious and careful negotiations. The statement is a collection of all consensuses reached between the six parties. The "first steps" toward the goal of denuclearization was mentioned a few times in the statement and I believe all of you understand what "first steps" mean.

3. What is the comment of the Chinese side on the proposal put forward by the United States in the Third Round of Six-Party Talks? Were the differences between the DPRK and the US narrowed? Did China work out any middle course during this round of talks? What is the role of China as the host country? (CCTV)

We have studied carefully both the DPRK and the US plans. The DPRK plan focuses on the first steps toward nuclear abandonment while the US plan focuses more on the specific means of comprehensive nuclear abandonment. Just as the head of the US delegation said, there are common elements between the two plans which deserve careful analysis. We hope all parties can conduct further study of the DPRK and the US plans in future talks so as to narrow differences and expand consensus.

China has put forward its own schemes, plans and suggestions in each round of the talks, which rings truer when difficulties or even deadlock cropped up.

China's role in the six-party talks is to promote peaceful talks. Up to now, China has played its part mainly in three aspects. First, China formulated the general objective, direction and channel to solve the issue in a peaceful manner, which have been widely agreed by the other five parties as well as the international community. Second, China helped map out the framework of three-party talks and six-party talks which have become a continuous process. Third, as host of the talks, China played a role of mediating, which has gained affirmation of all parties. However, China is not the dominating factor on the issue and the key was not in the hand of China. We have always been well aware of this and managed to balance our position and role.

As we know, this round of talks discussed the focuses of substantive issues, which turned out to be difficult. As the host country, we have done three things. First, China urged the parties, especially the DPRK and the US to provide their concrete plans so as to help the talks go in-depth. Second, China repeatedly persuaded all parties to respect each other and to carefully treat and study each other's plans. Third, China mediated actively and put forward a middle course when the talks came to a deadlock. It can be said that the success of this round of talks is a result of the efforts made by all parties and China has played its due part.

4. What measures should be adopted with the deepening of the peace-talk process? How long will it take for the parties to study the plans raised by other parties? When will the next Meeting of the Working Group be convened? Why should the Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks be delayed to the end of September since we have already witnessed the good momentum? (United Press International)

The most important task for the next phase is to authorize the Working Group to convene a meeting as early as possible to discuss and define the scope, duration, verification and corresponding measures for the first steps toward the goal of denuclearization on the basis of consensuses reached during this round of talks, especially the consensus on the first steps. This work will be arduous, but we have to overcome the difficulty.

The six parties agreed in principle to hold the Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks by the end of September. Nevertheless, if the Meeting of the Working Group goes smooth and all parties would like to convene the fourth round of talks ahead of the schedule, China, as the host country, will welcome that development.

5. You mentioned in the Chairman's Statement that the parties agreed to continue the six-party talks step by step in the principle of "words for words" and "action for action". Will the six parties form a mechanism to decide who will start the first step in words or action or is it that any oral commitment or action should be made simultaneously? (Al-Jazeera Channel)

In accordance with existing consensuses, any oral commitment or action should be made by the six parties simultaneously. This principle will help us overcome existing differences, enhance mutual trust between the six parties and promote the final resolution of the issue.

6. Would you please share with us the significant differences between the US and the DPRK on such issues as enriched uranium and how long after the nuclear freezing will nuclear abandonment be implemented? (Associated Press)

You have given the answer in your question actually. It is on the question of enriched uranium that the US and the DPRK hold very different views. I hope this question can be gradually clarified and resolved in future talks just as other problems.

Thank you once again.

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