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Transcript of interview with Sabra Lane: ABC AM: 13 June 2018



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Minister for Foreign Affairs

foreignminister.gov.au/transcripts/Pages/2018/jb_tr_180613b.aspx

The Hon Julie Bishop MP

SABRA LANE: Joining us now is Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Welcome to AM.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning.

SABRA LANE: In the space of nine months, we have gone from Mr Trump describing Kim Jong-un as ‘Little Rocket Man’, to praising him and saying he has a special bond.

Sometimes you must scratch your head and wonder?

JULIE BISHOP: It’s been an extraordinary couple of months I have to say, but we should also remember that during that period, the UN Security Council unanimously proposed the strongest economic sanctions ever on North Korea, and I believe that the application of those sanctions, backed by all five permanent members of the Security Council including Russia and China, has had a significant impact on the thinking of Kim Jong-un and is one of the major reasons he was prepared to come to the negotiating table. So not only was it an historic meeting because it is the first time a sitting US President has met with the North Korean leader, it was also the first positive development we’ve seen in over a decade involving North Korea, building on the first meeting between President Moon and Kim Jong-un in April.

SABRA LANE: Kim Jong-un is a dictator. He has had relatives executed. He has presided over famine, millions of North Koreans are impoverished. How much trust does Australia have that he will live up to this agreement?

JULIE BISHOP: If you reread Justice Michael Kirby’s Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea, it makes for a chilling picture of a brutal regime and I am not aware that any of the issues Michael Kirby spoke about have been addressed or even recognised by the North Korean regime. So we are talking about a brutal dictator, but what’s at stake - the threats to the stability of our region, the global threat of the use of nuclear weapons is too great. So this effort by President Trump has really changed the course of the discussion, has changed the course, hopefully, of history. Mind you, the historic day will come when we see the last nuclear weapon dismantled by North Korea.

SABRA LANE: On that point, the text of what was released yesterday doesn’t include the words complete, verifiable, irreversible. They have been key words up to yesterday’s meeting. How concerning is that for you?

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Interview with Sabra Lane - ABC AM

13 June 2018

JULIE

BISHOP:

The

declaration is succinct. There are four points. Essentially there will be

complete denuclearisation. Now we are yet to see what North Korea means by

complete

denuclearisation because the United States has made it clear that they

meant complete,

verifiable, irreversible dismantling of the nuclear weapons

program. Of course, the United

States have provided security guarantees in

exchange for this complete denuclearisation,

but clearly it must be verified.

We just can’t take North Korea’s word for it, so there will have

to be a strong

independent investigation. Inspectors will need to go into North Korea to

verify

and I would suggest the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency is best

placed

to do that. Indeed, overnight the Director General Amano has stated that

the IAEA stands

ready to work with the United States and North Korea to ensure

that there is this complete

denuclearization. That is the bottom line. This

agreement will only be as strong as the

verification process that North Korea

allows to take place.

SABRA

LANE:

You have

said that Australia is going to assess what we can offer in this

process of

verification. What could Australia commit? We’ve got history in this area.

JULIE

BISHOP:

Indeed,

Australia has considerable technical expertise in analysing and

detecting

nuclear material. We work closely with the IAEA in Vienna. We have done this

kind

of work before. We have experts in the field and we of course would offer our

services. The United States will also want to be involved. The President spoke

about this in

his press conference, that there would need to be verifiable,

concrete steps taken by North

Korea. At this stage, the declaration is very

scant on detail. So there is a lot of work still to

be done. I imagine many

more meetings, much more diplomatic work, but one meeting was

never going to achieve

all of the goals that we have set out.

SABRA

LANE:

Mr

Trump also made reference to costs being involved in putting exercises

with South

Korea on hold and it prompted Lowy’s Michael Fullilove to note that the

President knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. What are the

dangers in

just valuing traditional alliances and relationships in straight

dollar terms?

JULIE

BISHOP:

Well

it is obviously far more complex than that and relationships are built

over

history, personal connections, shared interests, values - there are a whole

raft of

factors that come into play. I think that what we must focus on now is

the next steps

between the United States and North Korea, but also South Korea,

China and the UN

Security Council. There are many players involved in

eventually securing a lasting and

enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula.

SABRA

LANE:

Today

Australia is signing a deal with the Solomon Islands regarding a high

speed

internet cable. Relations are already pretty strained with China. How likely is

it that

this might stir things up given that Huawei originally was fated to

deliver this cable?

JULIE

BISHOP:

Prime

Minister Rick Hou is in Canberra. The Prime Minister and I met with

him last

night and we are meeting again with him today. Australia is a longstanding aid

partner for Solomon Islands. You will of course recall that when Solomon

Islands was in

disarray back in the 2000s, Australia led the Regional

Assistance Mission - RAMSI - to

restore law and order and build capacity and

work with the Solomon Islands Police Force.

So we are a longstanding partner of

Solomon Islands. We offered them an alternative to an

undersea cable project.

We believe that the alternative we have offered is cheaper, faster,

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more

reliable than that offered by the competitor, and we want Solomon Islands and

indeed other countries in the Pacific to have alternatives, to have options and

Australia is

well placed to offer that.

SABRA

LANE:

Might

that upset Beijing further?

JULIE

BISHOP:

It’s a

competitive world. We put forward an alternative and the Solomon

Islands are

accepting it.

SABRA

LANE:

Australians

James Ricketson is facing trial in Cambodia on Friday on

charges of espionage.

How confident are you that he is going to get a fair trial?

JULIE

BISHOP:

We

have made representations to the Cambodian Government. I have

written to my

counterpart, the Foreign Minister. The Prime Minister and I raised it directly

with the Cambodian Prime Minister when he was here for the ASEAN-Australia Leaders’

Summit in March. Mr Ricketson does have a legal team, he has lawyers acting for

him who

are advising him. We have provided consular assistance - our officials

have visited him on

over 20, I think about 22 occasions to check on his

wellbeing and provide support. There is

a limit to how far we can go in

intervening on behalf of an Australian citizen in the legal

proceedings of another

country, but we have certainly made our interests known and our

concerns known

to the government.

SABRA

LANE:

Julie

Bishop, thank you for joining

AM

this

morning.

JULIE

BISHOP:

My

pleasure.

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