Powell Ends Trip By Urging Talks
By Jason Chudy
Stars and Stripes
October 29, 2004
SEOUL — Secretary of State Colin Powell ended a three-country tour of Asia on
Tuesday by again urging North Korea's government to resume talks about its
nuclear weapons program.
Powell met with his South Korean counterpart, Ban Ki-moon, in Seoul to
bolster support from another member of the six-nation team created to negotiate
with North Korea about its pursuit of nuclear technologies.
"We agreed to changes devoted to maximum efforts to achieve this goal through
multi-lateral diplomacy and six-party talks," Powell said during a news
conference with Ban early Tuesday afternoon. "We will remain in close touch on
how we can move forward despite North Korea's failure to follow through on its
commitment to participate in a fourth talk."
Powell also discussed U.S. plans to consolidate its presence on the
peninsula. The change includes permanently removing 12,500 military personnel
from South Korea in the next few years and relocating Yongsan Garrison from
Seoul to Pyongtaek.
"I also expressed my appreciation for the progress we have made in realigning
the U.S. troop presence here and consolidating our bases," Powell said of his
talk over lunch with Ban.
During the news conference, Powell acknowledged the Yongsan move would have
"political and economic costs" for South Korea's capital city. He emphasized
that those concerns will be addressed in future negotiations between South Korea
and the United States as they determine the costs each country must shoulder.
Some South Korean legislators have bristled at provisions of the realignment
agreement that say Korea must bear all of the estimated $4.9 billion cost of
relocating U.S. bases around the peninsula.
"We will have to spend a great deal of time in consultation with each other,"
Powell said about Special Measures Agreement talks, which involve setting those
costs. "We will have to examine the SMA and renegotiate it. We look forward to
Powell also used the visit to praise South Korea's support in fighting
terrorism, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said relations between the
United States and South Korea have reached "a new level, a new plateau" as the
two governments work toward downsizing America troops on the peninsula in the
next few years.
The stalled North Korean talks remained a focus of Tuesday's news conference,
with Ban supporting Powell's efforts to persuade North Korea to return to the
"Both of our countries agreed to continue to work in close coordination so
that the party talks can be reconvened as they should be," Ban said through an
North Korean officials have met previously as part of the six-party talks —
which also include Russia, China and Japan — but refused to attend a September
meeting. They have said future talks depend on whether the United States would
change its "hostile policy" toward Pyongyang, though many speculate North Korea
is awaiting the outcome of the U.S. presidential election before announcing
whether it would resume talks.
The South Korean foreign minister added that Powell agreed to work to improve
humanitarian conditions in North Korea "that will bring real improvements to
North Korea's human rights and will contribute to keep stability on the Korean
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