Viewing cable 09BEIJING2964, DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG'S XXXXXXXXXXXX MEETING WITH XXXXXXXXXXXX
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|09BEIJING2964||2009-10-26 00:12||2010-11-29 21:09||SECRET||Embassy Beijing|
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VZCZCXRO0656 OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC DE RUEHBJ #2964/01 2990023 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 260023Z OCT 09 FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6591 INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC RHMFISS/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 BEIJING 002964 SIPDIS PACOM FOR FPA PICCUTA E.O. 12958: decl: 09/29/2029 TAGS: OVIP STEINBERG JAMES PREL MNUC SN CH KN SUBJECT: DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG'S XXXXXXXXXXXX MEETING WITH XXXXXXXXXXXX Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Aubrey Carlson. Reasons 1.4 (b/d). ¶1. (SBU)xxxxx ¶2. (SBU) Participants: U.S. ---- The Deputy Secretary Amb. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Embassy Beijing Joseph Donovan, EAP Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Rear Admiral Charles Leidig, Joint Chiefs of Staff Amb. Joseph DeTrani, Mission Manager for North Korea, DNI Amb. xxxxx Derek Mitchell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense RDML Bradley Gerhrke, U.S. Defense Attache in Beijing Pamela Park, Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary Ryan Hass, Embassy Political Officer (notetaker) James Brown, Interpreter China ------ XXXXXXXXXXXX ¶3. (S) SUMMARY: XXXXXXXXXXXX Deputy Secretary Steinberg stressed that the U.S. remains committed to the Six-Party process and to the verifiable denuclearization of North Korea. The Deputy Secretary emphasized the importance of continued, close contact with the XXXXXXXXXXXX on North Korea and stressed that the U.S. would not compromise its relations with China or other Six-Party Talks partners in pursuit of bilateral contact with the DPRK. The Deputy Secretary noted that the U.S. was not willing make concessions to entice North Korea to abide by its previous commitments. Ambassador DeTrani assessed that the DPRK was ready to return to multilateral talks on its nuclear program, but that it had not made a strategic decision to abandon nuclear weapons. XXXXXXXXXXXX encouraged the U.S. to engage in direct contact with the DPRK, which he felt could spur the DPRK to return to the Six-Party Talks. xxxxx speculated that DPRK leader Kim Jong-Il's deteriorating health and his desire to cement a legacy provided an opportunity for the resolution of the nuclear issue. In order to protect the gains that had been made and also to advance the Six-Party Talks, XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted, all parties had to remain committed to the September 2005 joint statement on denuclearization. XXXXXXXXXXXX reiterated China's commitment to implementation of UNSC Resolution 1874 and offered a read-out following Premier Wen Jiabao's October 4-6 visit to Pyongyang. End Summary. Positive U.S.-China Relations ----------------------------- ¶4. (S) Deputy Secretary Steinberg met with XXXXXXXXXXXX for a fifty-minute discussion on North Korea. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that the Deputy Secretary would have an opportunity to meet with a number of Chinese leaders during his visit, which spoke of the importance that China attached to its relationship with the U.S., as well as the respect that Chinese leaders held for the Deputy Secretary. XXXXXXXXXXXX commented that the Deputy Secretary's visit occurred on the heels of President Obama and President Hu's September 22 meeting in New York. The two Presidents had reached consensus on key issues in the bilateral relationship, and now it was each side's responsibility to work together to implement that consensus. XXXXXXXXXXXX described himself as an outsider to U.S.-China relations, and even as an outsider he had met the Deputy Secretary three times over the past year, a fact that XXXXXXXXXXXX said spoke volumes about the positive development of U.S.-China relations. U.s. Is the missing element --------------------------- ¶5. (S)XXXXXXXXXXXX raised "The Red Cliff," a John Woo-directed Beijing 00002964 002 of 005 movie about the Battle of Red Cliffs 1,801 years ago along the banks of the Yangtze River, as a metaphor for the current diplomatic situation with North Korea. At that time in China, three states were in conflict. Two overmatched southern states had joined forces to fight the numerically-superior northern state. The two southern states planned to use fire as a weapon to defeat the northern state, but in order to do so, the southern states required an easterly wind. The battle ensued in November, when the prevailing winds normally came from the west. During the battle, an easterly wind arrived, which enabled the southern forces to use fire as a weapon to defeat the superior northern forces. This story was an aphorism, XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested. In the story, the southern forces had all of the elements in place except for the crucial one -- the east wind ("dong feng"). The same was true with the Six-Party Talks. There have been positive interactions among the parties to the Talks, and the U.S. and China saw eye-to-eye on issues. There was only one missing element: only the U.S. could bring the east wind, XXXXXXXXXXXX declared. XXXXXXXXXXXX rationale behind high-level visits to dprk --------------------------------------------- - ¶6. (S)XXXXXXXXXXXX explained that XXXXXXXXXXXX President Hu's Special Envoy, and Premier Wen Jiabao would pay a visit October 4-6. The purpose of these visits was to persuade North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks. North Korea's "supreme leader" called all of the shots. China sometimes had sharp debates with North Korea at the working-level, but when big matters were raised to the "supreme leader" for a decision, they were often easier to resolve. That was why China had sent XXXXXXXXXXXX and would send Premier Wen to Pyongyang in rapid succession, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX. ¶7. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX explained that his visits to Pyongyang had left him with a clear impression that bilateral contact with the U.S. was the issue most on the minds of North Korean leaders. It was possible to revive the Six-Party Talks, but only if the U.S. would engage North Korea. XXXXXXXXXXXX observed that the U.S. was at times capable of taking diplomatic initiative, and at other times was cautious in its diplomatic approach. In this instance, the U.S. had been overly cautious. China hoped the U.S. would initiate contact with North Korea, which XXXXXXXXXXXX stressed was crucial to re-convening the Six-Party Talks and to the larger goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Chinese assessment of kim jong-il --------------------------------- ¶8. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX allowed that DPRK leader Kim Jong-Il might have some realistic ideas, and stated that Kim Jong-Il wanted to engage the U.S. soon. Kim had been impressed by President Clinton's visit, and had come away from his meeting with President Clinton with an understanding that there were areas for discussion with the United States. XXXXXXXXXXXX stressed his personal feeling that if the U.S. made substantive contact with North Korea, then positive progress on the nuclear issue was within reach. The U.S. and China should not put off resolution of North Korea's nuclear issue indefinitely, XXXXXXXXXXXX stressed. ¶9. (S)XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that he had read a statement after President Clinton's visit that suggested that Kim Jong-Il was in good health, and speculated that the medical experts that accompanied President Clinton to Pyongyang might have arrived at a different conclusion. XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested that Kim Jong-Il would like to resolve outstanding issues in the near future because his health might not permit him to put off decisions for too long. This dynamic created a favorable moment for resolving the nuclear issue; it was important for the U.S. and China to seize this moment and bring North Korea back to the path of consultations and negotiations, XXXXXXXXXXXX stressed. U.s.-prc shared assessment on North Korea ----------------------------------------- ¶10. (S) The Deputy Secretary expressed appreciation for XXXXXXXXXXXX insights on North Korea and for China's decision to send senior representatives to North Korea to press for the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks. The U.S. and China shared Beijing 00002964 003 of 005 common goals and a common assessment of the path forward on North Korea. Both countries had the confidence to send parallel messages to North Korea, and when we were able to engage North Korea at high levels, it reinforced shared U.S.-Chinese objectives. Regarding U.S.-DPRK contacts, the Deputy Secretary suggested, China already understood from Ambassador Bosworth's September 3 visit and our ongoing bilateral contacts that the U.S. was prepared to have direct contact with North Korea as a way to bring North Korea back to the Six-Party Talks. Learning the right historical lessons ------------------------------------- ¶11. (S) The Deputy Secretary noted that some people carried history forward through their own experiences. It was important that the U.S. and China drew from their shared history of dealing with North Korea to determine the best way forward. The Deputy Secretary noted that the chief obstacle to progress at the end of the Bush Administration had not been a lack of U.S.-DPRK contact. In fact, the frequency of direct contact became a source of criticism, with some observers suggesting that the U.S. had too much direct contact with North Korea and not enough coordination with Six-Party partners. ¶12. (S) The Deputy Secretary observed that North Korea had established a pattern of provocation followed by conciliation to ameliorate pressure from the international community resulting from its actions. It was imperative to break this pattern, which was counter-productive to shared U.S.-Chinese goals on North Korea. Key elements to current approach -------------------------------- ¶13. (S) The Deputy Secretary asked XXXXXXXXXXXX what missing element, or "easterly wind," would lead to a change in North Korea's behavior and produce a different outcome than during the 1980s and 1990s. The Deputy Secretary offered three elements that could affect North Korea's decision-making. ¶14. (S) The first element was the unified position on North Korea among the Six-Party Talks partners. The U.S. wanted to ensure that if it proceeded to bilateral contact with North Korea, such contact would not undermine in any way the strong unity of approach among Six-Party Talks partners. ¶15. (S) The second key element was the strong unity of action among Six-Party Talks partners, particularly in implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874. It would be important for Six-Party Talks participants to continue full implementation of this resolution, the Deputy Secretary stressed. ¶16. (S) The third key element would be to articulate clearly to North Korea precisely what steps the Six-Party Talks partners expected the DPRK to take to irreversibly denuclearize, while also making clear exactly what benefits the DPRK would derive from such actions. The Deputy Secretary acknowledged that significant work had already been undertaken in this regard, but much more work was needed to establish a specific, common understanding among Six-Party Talks participants. ¶17. (S) The Deputy Secretary acknowledged that although he was not certain whether these three elements would be enough to convince North Korea at a strategic level to decide it was better off without nuclear weapons, the U.S. was willing to test the proposition. The U.S. was prepared to have bilateral contact with North Korea to determine whether a different outcome was possible now that the Six-Party Talks participants held a clear, unified position. U.S. Caution on bilateral u.s.-dprk contacts -------------------------------------------- ¶18. (S) The U.S. "caution" in re-engaging with North Korea stemmed from its interest in ensuring that any contact would be done on the clear basis that bilateral contact was not about managing North Korea's nuclear program, but rather about taking concrete measures to dismantle it, the Deputy Secretary stated. North Korea had recently sent several positive signals, including through xxxxx and State Beijing 00002964 004 of 005 XXXXXXXXXXXX meetings, North Korean public comments that walked back its previous rejection of the Six-Party Talks, hints that there could be a new formation for international talks on denuclearization, and statements that North Korea understood the goal was denuclearization. Premier Wen Jiabao's October visit would present another opportunity to convey to North Korea that the Six-Party Talks partners shared a common position. ¶19. (S) On the current status of U.S.-DPRK bilateral talks, the Deputy Secretary explained that there had been exchanges in recent days through the New York channel on modalities for bilateral contacts. The U.S. wanted to ensure that if direct engagement occurred, the DPRK would participate at a high level. This would be the only way to determine whether North Korea was serious about engagement. While the U.S. was prepared to have bilateral contact with North Korea, it was not willing to engage in extended bilateral negotiations in which an agreement would be reached outside of the Six-Party Talks framework. The only way to ensure an effective solution was to guarantee that all of the Six-Party Talks partners' interests were brought into play, the Deputy Secretary said, while also noting that Six-Party Talks partners' interests were similar, but not identical. Key question: kim jong-il's calculus ------------------------------------ ¶20. (S) The Deputy Secretary suggested that the key questions concerned Kim Jong-Il's motivations, specifically how he viewed his interests, and how much emphasis he placed on reaching a solution to the nuclear issue and normalization of relations with the U.S. as part of his legacy. The Deputy Secretary emphasized the need for continued, close dialogue with China. Dprk not clearly committed to denuclearization -------------------------------------- ¶21. (S) Ambassador DeTrani said that the U.S. assessed, largely as a result of XXXXXXXXXXXX seemingly successful efforts, that the DPRK was ready to return to multilateral talks on its nuclear program. The U.S. further assessed that North Korea at a strategic level had not committed to the goal of complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. North Korea wanted to be accepted as a nuclear state with ICBM capabilities. The DPRK's September 3 letter to the UN was indicative of this point. In the letter, the DPRK acknowledged that it had reprocessed spent fuel rods and extracted plutonium that was being weaponized, and after six years of denial, admitted to possessing a uranium enrichment program. A key question would be whether North Korea would negotiate while UNSC Resolution 1874 sanctions were still in place, Ambassador DeTrani noted. ¶22. (S) Ambassador DeTrani observed that North Korea had established a pattern of walking away from negotiations as a sign of displeasure, such as its 13-month hiatus from the Six-Party Talks after the U.S. had suggested it possessed an HEU program and its similarly long absence in protest of reports of money laundering through a Macau bank (BDA). In both of these instances, the Six-Party Talks partners had conceded something, after which the DPRK returned to the Talks. The U.S. intelligence community assessed that if the Six-Party Talks partners did not concede something, the DPRK would be reluctant to move the Six-Party process forward. Ambassador DeTrani emphasized the shared U.S.-China objective in achieving progress in the Six-Party Talks building upon the September 2005 joint statement that XXXXXXXXXXXX was so instrumental in crafting. China committed to 6-party talks, denuclearization --------------------------------------------- ----- ¶23. (S) The Six-Party Talks, on the whole, "have been positive," XXXXXXXXXXXX declared. XXXXXXXXXXXX recounted that he had told North Korean counterparts on numerous occasions that the Six-Party Talks enabled the U.S. and North Korea to feel comfortable with bilateral engagement. China supported U.S.-DPRK bilateral engagement, and such contact would not affect U.S.-China relations, XXXXXXXXXXXX assured, allowing that other Six-Party Talks partners might not share the same view. Beijing 00002964 005 of 005 ¶24. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX affirmed that China was committed to getting North Korea back to the negotiating table. In order to protect the gains that had been made and to advance the Six-Party Talks, all parties had to remain committed to the September 2005 joint statement on North Korea's denuclearization. XXXXXXXXXXXX allowed that in light of the current situation, it might be necessary to refine the statement, but nonetheless, the September 2005 statement had to serve as the starting point. ¶25. (S) On North Korean denuclearization, XXXXXXXXXXXX agreed with the U.S. assessment that it would be difficult to obtain North Korea's commitment. The U.S. should inform North Korea that improved U.S.-DPRK relations depended upon verifiable steps toward denuclearization. XXXXXXXXXXXX agreed with the U.S. assessment that North Korea had not made a strategic decision to forego its nuclear weapons program. North Korea was looking in particular at its relations with the U.S. and was not moved by Chinese representations of what steps the U.S. would be willing to take. North Korea often insisted that it was an independent country and did not like having China as a go-between with the U.S., according to XXXXXXXXXXXX. China urges bilateral, multilateral combination --------------------------------------------- --- ¶26. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX proposed that Six-Party Talks partners consider using bilateral mechanisms within the Six-Party Talks framework to improve relations with North Korea. Through a combination of bilateral and multilateral channels, it might be possible to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. Because the opportunity to persuade North Korea still existed, China would continue making vigorous efforts in this pursuit. XXXXXXXXXXXX stressed that the Chinese government was serious about UNSC Resolution 1874 implementation, adding that there had not been any change in China's policy. ¶27. (S) The Deputy Secretary agreed with XXXXXXXXXXXX basic conclusions, expressed appreciation for XXXXXXXXXXXXxxxx leadership on the North Korea issue, and reiterated the U.S. interest in continued close contact with China. xxxxx offered to provide a briefing for the U.S. immediately following Premier Wen Jiabao's October 4-6 visit to Pyongyang. ¶28. (U) The Deputy Secretary cleared this message. Huntsman huntsman