PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 22811

Doorstop Interview at the Freedom House, DMZ, Panmunjon

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: 20/05/2000

Release Type: Doorstop

Transcript ID: 22811

Subjects: Visit to DMZ

E&OE …………………………………………………………………………………

JOURNALIST:

What were your thoughts when you went in . . .

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s still very relevant today, it’s still being acted out, played out and I think that’s fascinating.

JOURNALIST:

How long do you think it will be before you go across the border into North Korea yourself – given that Australia’s now recognizing it?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it could come quicker than we would have imagined a few years ago. I think it’s a tremendous breakthrough and I think President Kim Dae-jung deserves an enormous amount of praise from the rest of the world for what he’s done.

JOURNALIST:

Would you go to North Korea yourself?

PRIME MINISTER:

If it were appropriate to do so, yes. Once you establish diplomatic relations with a country of course. But it’s something where Korea has taken the lead on, I will take my cue from Kim Dae-jung. But we support what he’s doing. What he’s doing is very forward looking, very courageous and I am greatly encouraged by the fact that he’s going to have a Summit meeting. Australia supports that with diplomatic recognition, along with other countries and I think it’s a huge breakthrough.

JOURNALIST:

It’s your first visit to the DMZ, what were your impressions of standing in that room – you had North Korean guards looking in at you. It must have been a strange feeling.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, as I said it’s a bit of history but it’s also unfinished history. It was, it reminded me of forty years ago what I remember, but I am also reminded that unlike visiting a battlesite of World War I or II or Vietnam War, there is still an issue to be resolved. It’s still a part of current political current political events and that gives it a character which is different to just visiting a battle site of a former war.

JOURNALIST:

Did you want to come here personally, did you make the request to come here, or were you invited?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh, it was obviously a possibility once I was coming to Seoul and I said yes very enthusiastically.

Thank you

[ends]

Transcript 22811