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Transcript 20810

Doorstop Interview before Meeting with President Roh Moo-hyun, Seoul, South Korea

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 18/07/2003

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 20810

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, what';s your assessment of the seriousness or otherwise of the exchange of gunfire across the DMZ?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don';t think of itself we should attach too much significance to it. These things do happen when you have armed protagonists facing each other and I don';t think we should jump to too many conclusions. That said we are dealing with a difficult situation and it';s about as important a visit as an Australian Prime Minister can pay to this country in a long time so we can hear what the South Koreans have to say and put our view. We want the issue obviously settled in a peaceful fashion and if all of the countries capable of bringing pressure on North Korea can speak with one voice, and I welcome the growing exchanges which are now evident between China and the United States, it';s always been my strong view that the greatest possible co-operation between the China and the United States is very very important in our region and as a country that is obviously very close to the United States and also very close to China we';ve always encouraged those exchanges.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, what do you make of the reports this morning that Chinese intelligence has indeed concluded that North Korea has completed reprocessing of its stocks of uranium?

PRIME MINISTER:

Without any separate assessment Jim I can';t make any comment on that other than to say that I';ve read that report, but I don';t have any separate advice on that.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, could talk of an interception force possibly have inflamed tensions on peninsula?

PRIME MINISTER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, the State Department are talking about possibly resuming the three-party talks in Beijing as a prelude to five member multi-lateral talks, do you think that';s a good idea?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well my view today is the same as it was yesterday and that is that it';s desirable to have the five countries talking, and if in the process some other forum emerges which produces progress, well, I';m in favour of that as well. Clearly when you';ve got the two Koreas and China and Japan and the United States and possibly also Russia in play, if you can get them all together that';s the optimum outcome. If there';s something short of that that emerges well I';m not an antagonist to it but I do think the more you can have who';ve got influence sitting around the table at the same time, the better.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 20810