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Australia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK): continuing the engagement.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Media Release Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer

28 June 2001

Australia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK): Continuing the Engagement

I met with the DPRK Foreign Minister, Mr Paek Nam-sun today for broad ranging talks on the development of bilateral relations, as well as regional security and humanitarian issues.

I welcomed the DPRK plan to open an Embassy in Canberra in the near future. We agreed that opening resident embassies will open further opportunities for developing our bilateral relationship.

Asia Pacific regional security issues played a prominent role in the discussions.  I encouraged the DPRK to continue its engagement with the Republic of Korea.  Mr Paek assured me that the DPRK was committed to last year’s Joint Declaration at the North-South Summit.  I also conveyed my conviction that the new US Administration was keen to recommence constructive high-level dialogue.

I stressed that timely implementation of all elements of the 1994 Agreed Framework addressing DPRK nuclear concerns remains vital and we will continue support for the Korean Peninsular Energy Development Organisation (KEDO).  I particularly welcomed the planned participation of DPRK officials in a regional nuclear safeguards training course, which will be held in Australia later this year and will be a practical step to help ensure full transparency in meeting non-proliferation objectives.

I welcomed indications that the DPRK intends to uphold its moratorium on missile test flights and encouraged work towards a comprehensive and verifiable settlement on missiles.

I expressed concern for North Korea's continuing humanitarian crisis.  Australia has offered a further contribution of $5million in food aid through the World Food Programme.

Clearly confrontation and isolation are not going to resolve the problems afflicting the Korean Peninsula.  The dialogue Australia is engaged in is contributing to the right atmosphere for progress.

Media Inquiries: Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 Lyndall Sachs (Departmental) 02 6261 2912


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