Channel 9, Today Show - interview with Karl Stefanovic

  • Transcript, E&OE
19 September 2017

JOURNALIST: The threat from North Korea is looming large on the agenda for world leaders meeting at the United Nations in New York this morning. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is there and joins us now. Foreign Minister, thanks for your time. Donald Trump has given to it the UN this morning - doesn't seem to be much love there.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning, Karl. Yes, the President did attend an event at the UN this morning. I was in attendance as were representatives from about 120 countries and we all agreed there should be reform of the United Nations. It is in its 70th year, there have been criticisms of the UN's inefficiency and ineffectiveness for some time - but the important thing is that this meeting was attended by the UN Secretary General and he agrees that the UN needs reform. He has offered to work with the United States and the 120 others countries who believe we can do more to make the UN more effective.

JOURNALIST: The problem is - and it has always been a problem hasn't it - if the world's muscle doesn't like the diplomacy that the UN is dishing out or the speed of it, matters get taken out of the UN's hands?

JULIE BISHOP: That is a challenge, of course, for the United Nations to remain relevant. It does some extraordinarily good work in peacekeeping, in humanitarian efforts and if we didn't have a United Nations you would create one. You need a body that can speak for the international community - but it can be reformed in ways that make it more effective and more efficient and more relevant and contemporary and that is what we are supporting, as was President Trump.

JOURNALIST: It seems to be the case that diplomacy – and I'm sure you'll beg to differ on this - isn't working with regards to the North Korea. The US Ambassador to the UN said that North Korea will be destroyed if they continue with their reckless behaviour, and the Donald calls him The Rocket Man. Is that the sort of diplomacy leadership that everyone is looking for here?

JULIE BISHOP: The challenge that we have is that North Korea is acting in defiance of numerous UN Security Council resolutions. What we need is for the Security Council to uphold its authority and ensure that the sanctions that the UN Security Council have imposed can be implemented in full, universally, by the whole international community and be given time to work, to deter North Korea from their current course.

JOURNALIST: So why aren't they doing that that?

JULIE BISHOP: They have only just been announced on 5th of August and on the 11th of September, the toughest and most comprehensive set of sanctions, but they do need time to work. It will take weeks, months, in some cases even longer for the full impact of these economic sanctions to work. But I am convinced with diplomacy and political pressure and the economic pressure we can compel North Korea back to the negotiating table.

JOURNALIST: How much time, how many excuses, do we need to give the UN?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, I am not giving the UN any excuses. North Korea is the one that is in defiance of the UN Security Council, and so that's why we are part of this collective strategy to impose maximum political, diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea - but these sanctions must be given time to work. They have only just been agreed by the Security Council, and all countries will have to pass relevant legislation, but be part of this universal, international effort to impose sanctions on North Korea so they come back to the negotiating table and give up their illegal behaviour.

JOURNALIST: The problem is, you're talking about time here, it's going to take time. Kim Jong-Un doesn't care about time, he's just got his own agenda and the UN doesn't seem to be - they are not flagging anything that they are going to do about it. So how long do you give them?

JULIE BISHOP: Well his agenda is to be treated as an equal to the United States. So time is actually on his side because he wants to keep carrying out missile tests to prove that he should be treated as an equivalent of the United States. But what we need to do is ensure that collectively we bring sufficient pressure to bear - and it has happened before and it can happen again - to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister always good to talk to you. Thanks for taking the time to spend with us today and to talk to our audience, always appreciate it. Thank you.

JULIE BISHOP: Thanks Karl.

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