The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
7 June 2001

United States Review of Relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

I welcome President Bush's direction that the United States resume its dialogue with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Continued engagement by the United States is vital to the process of building confidence and stability on the Korean Peninsula. 

Australia provided input in the Bush administration review of its policies on Korean Peninsula issues. The United States plays a key role in deterring aggression and maintaining peace and security on the Peninsula. As an alliance partner, Australia actively supports this role. The United States has also played a critical and creative role in brokering a deal with Pyongyang to cap North Korea's nuclear program. The effort to resolve this and other issues must be maintained. 

Australia has a deep and long-term interest in stability in North East Asia, the destination of 40 per cent of our exports. Our objectives are enhanced security in North East Asia through maintenance of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula as well as elimination of regional and global WMD and missile proliferation threats posed by North Korea. 

In my meeting with President Kim Dae-jung last week, I reaffirmed Australia's commitment to continue contributions to the process of engagement. My visit to Pyongyang last November allowed me to put our views directly to senior North Korean leaders. I am pleased that Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun will pay a return visit to Australia in coming weeks. The conclusion of the United States review will be a very welcome backdrop to our discussions during Mr Paek's visit. 

DPRK remains in desperate need of assistance to recover from its economic crisis. We provide humanitarian assistance - $24 million since 1996-97. We provide training in market economics - some six students are currently studying in Canberra. We support KEDO, some $18 million to date, and have provided training in systems of accounting and control of nuclear material - essential skills to help North Korea meet the non-proliferation undertakings provided for in the Agreed Framework capping the North's indigenous nuclear program.


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