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

Media Release

FA13  - 30 January 2004

Australian Delegation to Visit North Korea

I am sending a senior delegation to Pyongyang this week to convey our concerns about North Korea's nuclear-weapons ambitions and to urge the Government to participate in a second round of six-party talks.

A constructive, diplomatic solution to North Korea's nuclear crisis, which escalated just over a year ago, is vital for the security of our region and stability in North Asia and among our allies and top trading partners.

I believe the six-party talks between North and South Korea, China, the United States, Japan and Russia, provide the most viable mechanism for finding a peaceful and lasting solution to the nuclear issue.

The head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's North Asia Division, Mr Murray McLean, will lead the Australian delegation on the visit to take place from 31 January to 3 February. The delegation will also include a senior official from the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office.

The delegation will meet with the major powers involved in the six-party process and with senior North Korean officials, building on a year of engagement with the North Korean Ambassador in Canberra.

Australia is well-placed to contribute to international efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. We resumed bilateral diplomatic relations in 2000 - one of the first countries to do so as relations evolved rapidly between North and South Korea. We have also provided aid through the international agencies over many years.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny +61 02 6277 7500 - Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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