Doorstop, Canberra

  • Transcript, E&OE
13 June 2018

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister,the deal from yesterday, it seems as though that the more that President Trumpexpanded yesterday, the wording of the deal seemed to be getting more scarce bythe minute. Are you concerned that this really is only a work towards somethingthat North Korea has already committed to do for decades?

JULIEBISHOP: Onesummit was never going to achieve everything that we are seeking from NorthKorea. The Declaration is very succinct. There are four points to it. The mostimportant aspect though is that North Korea has committed to completedenuclearisation, of course in exchange for security guarantees, but the detailis still to be worked through. There will be many more meetings, there will be muchmore dialogue, a lot of diplomatic work still to be done. The historic aspect ofit of course is it is the first time that a sitting US President has met with aleader of North Korea, but more importantly it's the first positive developmentwe've seen in relation to North Korea in well over a decade, building on themeeting between the President of South Korea and Kim Jong-un in April, and nowthis meeting with the US President. So much work is still to be done.

JOURNALIST: Given theopportunity, were you hoping for more?

JULIEBISHOP: I wascautiously optimistic that the meeting would end in some kind of agreement, andthat has occurred. There is a document - a four point Declaration - and we cannow build on that, but there was some concern that the meeting wouldn't goahead only a few weeks ago. So the fact that the meeting has occurred issomething of a breakthrough.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister -the wording that you would like to see, because we know that words are veryimportant in foreign affairs, so what is the wording that you would have likedto have seen brought from the North Korea side of the bargain?JULIEBISHOP: Well,most certainly the wording that the United States has been using - complete,verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of the nuclear weapons program - andthat has to occur before the sanctions can be lifted and before there can be anenduring peace on the Korean Peninsula. So complete, verifiable, irreversible -and I note that overnight the International Atomic Energy Agency has offered tobe involved in the verification process. I've offered Australia's servicesbecause we have expertise in that regard, but the strength of this agreementwill only be as good as the verification process that North Korea allows.

JOURNALIST: One last thing onthat – suspension for suspension – the suspending of war games that the UnitedStates does for the suspension of nuclear activities in the North Korean Peninsulawas actually the wording that came out of Moscow and Beijing - were you surprisedby the fact that so early in the piece the United States has offered thesuspension of war games? How does Australia feel about that?

JULIEBISHOP: Idon't believe that suspension for suspension has actually been agreed. The Declarationsets out the four points of agreement. The President has raised a whole rangeof other issues in his press conference but I think it is too early to say thatanything like suspension for suspension has occurred.

JOURNALIST: Have you had anyindication that those additional points raised by Donald Trump in his pressconference were raised with Kim Jong-un?

JULIEBISHOP: Clearlythe President said that a number of matters were raised – for example, he saidthat the issue of Japanese abductions was raised, he said the issue of humanrights was raised, he said that the complete, verifiable denuclearisation wasraised. So there are a number of issues that he said he raised with NorthKorea, but the Declaration raises only four points, and that's the startingpoint. That the basis for all where we go from here. That's what we have twowork with.

JOURNALIST: Does that indicate to you that KimJong-un is perhaps not open to those other-

JULIEBISHOP: Idon't think we can draw that conclusion. It was one meeting, and we shouldnever have expected that everything would have been resolved in one meeting.There was always going to have to be further work, and this could take months,years even. Our concern, of course, is that North Korea is yet to show genuinesteps in denuclearisation, and they have made agreements in the past. NorthKorea has even signed agreements and then walked away from them, they have nothonoured the agreements they've made in the past. So the test now is that thisDeclaration that was signed with the US President before the world's media,that must stand, and the onus is now on North Korea to prove that it isgenuine.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister,just for clarity sake, the President did say that he wanted to see an end towar games. It was very expensive. He was actually talking about the removal oftroops from the Korean Peninsula. What is Australia's view on whether or notwar games should continue?

JULIEBISHOP: Thisis an arrangement between the United States and South Korea, so it's anarrangement between two allies to carry out military exercises, and of courseAustralia supports the right of our allies to carry out military exercises - indeedwe are involved in many of them - but the president spoke about it in answer toa question at a press conference. It clearly was not part of the Declaration,so we have to take the Declaration as being the areas of agreement and build onthat.

JOURNALIST: Minister,just on another subject, on the cable – Rick Hou said last week in New Zealandthat Australian officials specifically raised security concerns about Huaweibuilding the cable. Can you elaborate on what those security concerns were?

JULIEBISHOP: No, Iwould not do that. I would not elaborate on security issues, that would not be appropriate. What we haveoffered the Solomon Islands, and they have accepted, is an alternative to theoffer from Huawei and ours is cheaper, it's likely to be a faster result for them,and technically superior, and also more resilient. So we've offered an optionfor an undersea cable for Solomon Islands and PNG that I believe would be inthe interests of both countries. That is PNG and Solomon Islands, because it'sacross both.

JOURNALIST: Did we say wewouldn't allow Huawei to plug into the Australian mainframe via Sydney?

JULIEBISHOP: Therewas no application made.

JOURNALIST: But did we makethat clear that that would not be allowed to happen?

JULIEBISHOP: No, therewas no application made and there are many steps that one would have to gothrough in order to consider such an application, but one was never made, sothey never had to go through those steps.

JOURNALIST: Do you expectBeijing to be disappointed at the result?

JULIEBISHOP: PerhapsHuawei might be disappointed as a competitor but this was a commercialarrangement, and it was obviously not concluded. We put up an alternative, andthat's what I believe Australia should continue to do. We are the largest aiddonor in the Pacific. We are a long-standing partner of Solomon Islands, and Iwant to ensure that countries in the Pacific have alternatives, that they don'tonly have one option and no others, and so in this case we were in a positionto be able to offer a more attractive deal for Solomon Islands and PNG, and theyaccepted it.

JOURNALIST: Back to the summit– in foreign affairs trust is a very important word and there is trust issueson both sides. How concerned are you about trusting what these leaders saidyesterday in private, and trusting what Donald Trump told the world's medialast night just days after what he had that volatile relationship with the G7?

JULIEBISHOP: Well,we can only determine the success of this meeting by the outcomes, and thatwill take some time. North Korea has committed to complete denuclearisation. Weare yet to understand what North Korea means by denuclearisation. We understandwhat the United States and its allies mean - that is, the complete, verifiable,irreversible dismantlement of the nuclear weapons program that is in defianceof numerous UN Security Council resolutions. So clearly North Korea must nowabide by those numerous UN Security Council resolutions. And, by the way, thesanctions imposed by the UN Security Council remain in place. They would not beremoved until such time as North Korea had proven it has dismantled its nuclearweapons program.

JOURNALIST: But the NorthKorean regime has gone back on deals before.


JOURNALIST: And PresidentTrump has gone back on the Iran nuclear deal. So is there any sense that we cantrust either of these parties?

JULIEBISHOP: Theoutcomes will be the determinant of the success of this agreement that wasreached yesterday. The Declaration, a very succinct Declaration, it is astarting point. It is a step in the right direction.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister,you'd be very well aware of the deal though with Iran, which was a verycomprehensive deal by comparison to this one that we've seen yesterday. So whatwas so wrong with the Iranian deal and so right with this one?

JULIEBISHOP: Australiahas always supported the Iranian deal. We don't believe it was perfect but itwas the best option available and we've expressed our disappointment directlyto the United States Administration about pulling out of the Iranian dealbecause the kind of issues that you are raising of course would be levelled atthe United States. But the JCPOA, as the Iran deal is called was endorsed bythe UN Security Council of which the United States is a member but the UnitedStates has made it clear that they are wanting to negotiate a much broader agreementwith Iran, that involves Iran's behaviour in the region and also ballisticmissiles which were not covered in the Iran deal, the JCPOA. As I said,Australia didn't think the deal was perfect but it was the best optionavailable and still is the best option available to put a halt, howevertemporary, to Iran's nuclear ambitions.

JOURNALIST: But you arefamiliar with the text of both deals – how would you describe the level ofdetail in one versus the other?

JULIEBISHOP: Theyare very different arrangements. The JCPOA was negotiated over many, manymonths. John Kerry, the Secretary of State spent months travelling back andforth to meet with Foreign Minister Zarif to negotiate the very fine detail.There were other countries involved. It was the P5 plus 1. So there were anumber of countries involved. It was very complex, long negotiating process.Yesterday was the first meeting between the US President and Kim Jong-un. Theyhad a tete-a-tete. They had an initial meeting, as it is called. An initialmeeting where they got to know each other and then there was a discussion thatled to a short Declaration. So there is no comparison between the twoprocesses. The hard work begins now in relation to North Korea. We have aframework, the Declaration, which talks about a lasting, stable peace, andcomplete denuclearisation. It also mentions the repatriation of remains of USsoldiers and of course Australia is very interested in that issue. We have 43Australians who are missing in action from the Korean War and I've been makingdiplomatic representations to North Korea for some time now in relation to thereturn of the remains of Australian soldiers. So perhaps there is anotherbreakthrough for us, in a matter that is of great concern to us as well.

JOURNALIST: Doesthe relative success of yesterday's summit open the door for multilateral talkswith North Korea and is that something that you'll look to progress?

JULIEBISHOP: It isvery early days. We've had one meeting between the President and Kim Jong-un, avery short Declaration covering four points only. There are many other issuesof contention with North Korea, not least its human rights record, the issue ofballistic missile testing, and there are many other issues involving NorthKorea, but this is a first step, and it is a step in the right direction. As Isaid it is the first positive development we've seen with North Korea in wellover a decade.

JOURNALIST: You're now veryexperienced in dealing with foreign affairs. How many minutes does it take youto ascertain whether someone who speaks a different language is entirely on thesame wavelength as you?

JULIEBISHOP: Well,we all have different ways of assessing people that we meet. First impressionsdo count for a lot, but I haven't met Kim Jong-un so I am not in a position tosay how long it would take me to size him up, but actions do speak louder than words.He has committed to the Declaration. We now have to see the genuine, concrete,steps that North Korea takes to denuclearise, to be a law abiding nation and itis indirect defiance of numerous UN Security Council Resolutions – it mustprove to the world that it can be trusted.

JOURNALIST: Ifthings move towards denuclearisation, verification, what role do you seepossibly for Australia?

JULIEBISHOP: Ibelieve that Australia has a role to play. We have expertise in this area. Wehave a number of experts who are able to analyse and detect nuclear material.We have worked with the IAEA in Vienna and elsewhere, and the IAEA will belooking for experts from around the world. I believe that the United Stateswould want to send inspectors and Australia certainly has experts, and we wouldoffer that expertise but until we know the parameters of the verification, theframework that North Korea would accept, then I can't go into any morespecifics.

JOURNALIST: On Australia's wardead, do you have any evidence or information at all that North Koreans wouldhave gathered them in a particular place or categorised them or kept them insuch a way? It was such a long period of time to be able to find them.

JULIEBISHOP: Wehave made numerous representations. In fact, the last representation I made wasin 2017. They have not been acknowledged by North Korea but I know our WarMemorial is working very hard on this issue. The fact that it was raised byPresident Trump and it has been agreed by North Korea gives us some hope thatAustralia will also be able to make representations to North Korea for thereturn of our war dead.

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