KARL STEFANOVIC: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins me now. Good morning to you about Julie.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning, Karl.
KARL STEFANOVIC: What just about Trumpy on the world stage historic just getting stuff done?
JULIE BISHOP: This is an historic event. It is the first has time that a sitting US President has met with a North Korean leader and now they have committed to a lasting and stable peace on the Korean Peninsula and North Korea has committed to denuclearisation. We hope to see the end of the Korean War. It is quite an extraordinary outcome.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Any more briefed details to share? Have you been briefed by US officials yet?
JULIE BISHOP: No, there is no more detail. The President gave that lengthy press conference after, and a number of issues were raised but the Declaration is quite succinct. There are four elements to it but there is very little detail about it. So there’s a long road is ahead. There will be lengthy dialogue, diplomatic work that still needs to be done to flesh out the detail of the Declaration.
KARL STEFANOVIC: I will say it - we can can't seriously trust North Korea though can we after one meeting? Some sweet and sour pork and a handshake with Donald Trump?
JULIE BISHOP: We are cautiously optimistic but we know that we have seen this before. Maybe not the theatre and the pageantry around it but we have certainly seen North Korea make commitments that they have broken. They have even signed agreements that they have walked away from. The test of this will be in the verification of the denuclearisation and there is no detail yet around how North Korea will commit to the verification of the denuclearisation. In the past the United States has said that there must be complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of their nuclear weapons program and that is what we will be testing, to see if they are prepared to live up to that.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Do you trust Kim Jong-un?
JULIE BISHOP: Clearly I have never met him. The President has, but his past record doesn't fill one with a great deal of confidence. It is a very brutal regime. The human rights situation in North Korea is appalling.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Agree.
He has gone back on promises in the past but we will now see the test. Is he prepared to live up to the Declaration that he has now signed and before the entire world?
KARL STEFANOVIC: That’s right. I mean, how do you trust North Korea to keep a deal that is so vague?
JULIE BISHOP: That is going to be the challenge now, from now on. The diplomatic work now begins and that includes on the issue of denuclearisation but also other issues like the repatriation of the war dead. In fact, we take a particular interest in that - there are 43 Australians deemed to be missing in action in Korea and we have made diplomatic representations in the past to no avail, so perhaps this is the beginning of a new dawn.
KARL STEFANOVIC: And the point is if the US pulled out of the Iran deal that was specific, so specific, how do we have any to confidence either side will stick to a deal that is so lose?
JULIE BISHOP: That was always a concern with the United States pulling out of the Iran deal because the deal had in fact been endorsed by the UN Security Council. In the case of North Korea, it will be a question of wait and see. Will North Korea commit to a complete denuclearisation which would then enable peace to progress on the Korean Peninsula? Of course, the sanctions remain in place. This is what brought North Korea to the negotiating table in the first place, and Australia has played our part in imposing sanctions. We have been in fact even been involved in implementing the sanctions when we sent a surveillance plane to Japan recently to ensure that the sanctions were kept in place. That economic pressure on North Korea is one of the major reasons that it has come to the negotiating table.
KARL STEFANOVIC: So specifically under what circumstances would you support lifting those sanctions?
JULIE BISHOP: We would have to see the complete denuclearisation, that is, North Korea would have to abide by those numerous UN Security Council resolutions that banned its illegal ballistic missile tests and also the nuclear weapons program. When the independent inspectors verify that there has been complete denuclearisation then I believe the sanctions could be lifted.
KARL STEFANOVIC: You are keen for us to get involved in that process, aren’t you? How likely is that to happen?
JULIE BISHOP: The International Atomic Energy Agency put out a statement overnight. The Director General, Amano said that the IAEA stood ready to verify the denuclearisation process. Australia has expertise, Australians have been involved in this sort of work before and I believe it is appropriate that we should offer our services, should they be needed.
KARL STEFANOVIC: One of the more disturbing parts of this, depending on which way you look at it, is the US is pulling out of these war games in South Korea. Is there any likelihood of US pulling personnel out of South Korea altogether? We certainly don't want them to go that far do we?
JULIE BISHOP: That would be a very big step and none of that is contained in the Declaration. If you look at the four points of the Declaration it doesn't say anything about the presence of US troops on the Korean Peninsula. Of course that is a matter between the United States and South Korea, the presence of US troops there. Some of the statements that President Trump made in the press conference after the signing of the Declaration were not contained in the Declaration. So we will have to focus on that detail, but first I think North Korea needs to show that it is genuine. It needs to take concrete and verifiable steps to show that it is denuclearising, that it is going to be abide by the numerous US Security Council Resolutions that require it to give up its ballistic missile testing and its nuclear weapons program.
KARL STEFANOVIC: The eyes of the world were on it yesterday and they were looking on in wonder, and some level of wonder and part of us all thought it was an episode of the Kardashians as well. Where did you stand?
JULIE BISHOP: It was compelling viewing I have to say. The first time we have seen a sitting US President meet with a North Korean leader, and of course only a few months ago they were trading insults, and now this kind of rapport that has been built between them, but if this means peace on the Korean Peninsula, if this means relief from the suffering of the people of North Korea, if this means ending the threat of a nuclear attack then it has all been worth it.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Hear, hear. Foreign Minister thanks for your time as always.
JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555