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Ambassador Explains North Korea Remarks

Posted December. 17, 2005 10:36,   


U.S. Ambassador to Korea Alexander Vershbow (photo) offered an explanation regarding the controversy surrounding his recent labeling of North Korea as a “criminal regime,” saying, “I did not intend to spark controversy,” and adding, “I intended to draw mutual resolution by focusing attention on this issue.”

That day, he had lunch with reporters covering the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the U.S. Embassy in Jeong-dong, Seoul. He said in the lunch meeting, “My mission as a U.S. ambassador to Korea is to help a peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula, while consolidating the Korea-U.S. alliance and resolving the North Korean nuclear issue,” adding, “Please view my political remarks in a positive light.”

Concerning economic sanctions against North Korea, he said, “Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said he would explain the background of the issue to North Korea, but the North distorted the truth by saying, ‘The U.S. promised to negotiate with us over economic sanctions’,” stressing, “For mutual confidence building, it is important for the North to take what Hill says seriously.”

He also said, “The proposal to offer Pyongyang an explanation about the background of the sanction issue still stands,” adding, “We could offer a briefing in a region other than the U.S. or on the sidelines of the six-party talks.”

He explained, “Many investigations are ongoing related to Pyongyang’s issuance of forged dollars,” adding, “Sean Garland, the indicted Irish Workers’ Party leader, said that the main source of funding was Pyongyang’s forged dollars. A probe into that is also ongoing.”

He stated, “The judicial measures taken by the U.S. administration is not a matter of negotiation with Pyongyang. The communist state’s illegal behavior and human rights issues are international matters. It would be exceptional if the U.S. administration did not express concern about that.”

He also added, “Other countries should also express their concern about Pyongyang’s illegal behavior. The normalization of Pyongyang-Washington relations will be linked to the improvement of Pyongyang’s human rights issues.”

Jung-Ahn Kim credo@donga.com