(* This is a provisional translation by "WIP ジャパン" for reference purpose only. The original text is in Japanese.)

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Aso

Date: Friday, December 1, 2006, 9.45a.m.
Place: in front of the Ministers' Room in the House

Main topics:

  1. Emergency grant aid for the consolidation of peace in Sudan
  2. Six-Party Talks

1. Emergency grant aid for the consolidation of peace in Sudan

Minister:
It has been decided to provide a total of $30 million of emergency grant aid to Sudan.

Related Information (Press Release)

2. Six-Party Talks

Question:
Regarding the Six-Party Talks, the preliminary meeting in Beijing is over, and yesterday Mr. Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Mr. Kenichiro Sasae, the Director-General of Asia-Oceania Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, had a meeting at Narita Airport. Have any steps been made towards overcoming the impasse with North Korea?

Minister:
I think that depends on how North Korea responds. The present situation vis-à-vis North Korea is that Assistant Secretary Hill, has explained to North Korea the content of what Japan, the U.S., the Republic of Korea, China, and others, discussed at APEC, and the North Koreans have gone back to deliberate over it. So what kind of reply will be forthcoming depends on them.

Question:
I believe that Japan and the other countries involved have taken the position that any response from North Korea must show evidence of some concrete development. The ball being in the North Korean court, if, when it is returned, it cannot be said to show any concrete development, could sanctions be further tightened?

Minister:
Looking at the case of the U.S., I think there is a strong general trend in the Department of State towards strengthening sanctions. Conversely, Assistant Secretary Hill and those around him are stressing diplomacy. Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State also seems to be a hard-liner; and besides the Secretary and the Vice Secretary, I get the feeling that there are many hard-liners.

Question:
Do think that the U.S. will lower the hurdle of its financial measures?

Minister:
As long as North Korea fails to respond to diplomacy, while that hurdle may be raised, in terms of common wisdom I cannot imagine it being lowered.

Question:
Has a time limit been set by which North Korea should respond?

Minister:
There is no particular time limit. However, if they do not respond readily, the influence of the hard-liners could grow.

Question:
What is the prospect for Six-Party Talks being held by the end of this year?

Minister:
As I have said before, I cannot deny the possibility of it happening, but I cannot say one way or the other. However, the issue is not so much one of timing as of content. Even if the timing is left uncertain, what matters is that the problem is resolved. We take the position that nothing is more important than the content.

Question:
Is that to say that the prospect of talks being held by the end of the year is still there?

Minister:
I would say it is still there. I believe it depends on how North Korea will respond based on what they have gone back to deliberate over.

Related Information (Six Party Talks on North Korean Issues)


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