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Hill: “Seoul’s Assistance Is Spoiling Pyongyang”

Posted October. 07, 2005 07:35,   


Christopher Hill , the chief U.S. negotiator and assistant Secretary of State, allegedly criticized the South Korean government’s massive assistance policy for North Korea according to a report on October 6.

Invited by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Hill delivered a closed-door speech on September 29. When asked, “Is South Korea spoiling North Korea by devising a massive assistance plan for North Korea after an agreement was reached in the six-party talks?” he answered, “Yes, the South’s announcement (of assistance for Pyongyang) is making the six-party talks difficult.”

That is interpreted as an expression of the U.S. government’s negative perspective of the South Korean government’s move to assist North Korea.

On September 20, the day after an agreement was reached in the six-party talks, President Roh Moo-hyun instructed his cabinet ministers to “come up with a comprehensive cooperation plan with North Korea.”

It is first time ever that Hill, known as a major dove regarding Korea policy in the State Department and an official who knows Korea well, voiced criticism of the South Korean government’s North Korea policy.

Learning of Hill’s remarks through unofficial channels, the Korean Embassy to the U.S. immediately reported it to the Korean government. An official said on October 6 that the government is taking it seriously, believing that the remark reflects the U.S. government’s perspective.

The official said, “Hill made a very difficult decision of signing the joint statement of the six-party talks which includes considerable concessions from the U.S. side, such as the inclusion of the phrase “light-water reactor.” But he was placed in a difficult position in the U.S. (because the Korean government immediately started talking about massive assistance for North Korea.) It seems that he expressed his complaint for that reason.”

Hill’s speech was delivered behind closed doors to the “East Asia Strategy Group,” which is a gathering of former high-ranking officials of the State Department.

In attendance were many former State Department officials who had been directly engaged in the North Korean nuclear issue, including James Kelly, former Assistant Secretary of State; Wendy Sherman, former North Korea Policy Coordinator for the State Department; Thomas Hubbard, former U.S. ambassador to Korea, and Robert Einhorn, former Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation.

Jong-Koo Yoon jkmas@donga.com srkim@donga.com