Go to contents

Top U.S. Nuke Negotiator Visits Pyongyang

Posted June. 22, 2007 03:23,   


Christopher Hill, the U.S. chief negotiator of the six party talks, began a two-day visit to Pyongyang on Thursday. Hill, who is also assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, is scheduled to discuss various means by which to accelerate North Korea’s denuclearizing process; including the shutdown of its nuclear facilities.

Hill met First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Suk-ju in Pyongyang on the first day of his trip and discussed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Pyongyang, the establishment of a forum to discuss the building of a peace structure on the Korean Peninsula, and the removal of the North from both the list of terrorism-sponsoring countries and the Trading with the Enemy Act. “Hill said that he wants to speed up measures, such as the removal of North Korea from the list of terrorism-sponsoring countries, in an attempt to accelerate bilateral ties between the North and the U.S.,” said a diplomatic source, who is well informed on Pyongyang-Washington relations.

Some suggest that Hill might have proposed purchasing the equipment of the North’s highly enriched uranium (HEU) program. On Thursday, the New York Times reported that the U.S. government was considering the purchase of the North Korean nuclear equipment, including centrifuges and thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes that the North bought from Pakistan to produce highly enriched uranium.

However, the NYT added, “It was unclear whether Mr. Hill was prepared to make the offer to the North now, and also what form it would take.”

“While Washington or its allies could offer cash for the equipment, they might also promise future deliveries of nuclear fuel to power the civilian nuclear reactors the North insists it needs,” the paper said.

Hill, who arrived at the Osan Air Base, Korea, after departing from a U.S. military base near Tokyo on Thursday morning, flew to Pyongyang at 11:22a.m. by military aircraft. “We hope that we can make up for some of the time that we lost this spring,” Hill, who arrived in Pyongyang at 12:35p.m. that day, was quoted as saying by North`s state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Hill, who will return to the Osan Air Base after departing from Pyongyang on Friday afternoon, is expected to brief Korean government officials about the outcomes of his visit.

In his visit to the North, Hill was accompanied by the State Department director of Korean affairs, Sung Kim, his assistant, Tom Gibbons, and interpreters.

gun43@donga.com srkim@donga.com