BRIEFER: NICHOLAS BURNS TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 1997 Q: While we're in Asia, have you seen the reports suggesting that the food shortage is even worse than earlier reported and that there are evident signs of widespread starvation? BURNS: We've seen a number of those reports. In fact, Congressman Tony Hall just returned from a trip to North Korea. He gave very strong, dramatic statements to the press about what he saw about the deprivations and the food shortages underway in North Korea. I know that on April 4, the World Food Program Executive Director, Catherine Bertini, announced in Seoul that her organization would double its current appeal for North Korea to 200,000 metric tons of food commodities valued at $95.5 million. The United States has not made a formal decision about additional food assistance to North Korea. However, we remain open to appeals by the United Nations humanitarian agencies. We are seriously reviewing this expanded request by the World Food Program. I would also note that Cargill Corporation announced yesterday that it had reached agreement with the North Koreans for an initial, modest commercial sale of wheat in the near future. The exact terms, of course, are up to Cargill to reveal. That's proprietary information, but we hope very much that there can be efforts to meet the severe food needs of the North Koreans. Q: Do you have independent corroboration that there is widespread danger of starvation? BURNS: We rely on the World Food Program and the other United Nations agencies to be, in effect, the authoritative voice on these matters. We do not have an American Embassy, any kind of official presence, as you know, in North Korea. So we have always, historically, relied on these agencies to give us their best assessment. As you know, the United States has consistently responded positively to these requests for food assistance. We announced in late February, of course, $10 million in food assistance for the first appeal that was made by the World Food Program. I also want to say -- let me just add to that. I think since the Fall of 1995, we've given a total of $18.4 million in cash and in-kind donations to the North Koreans as a response to United Nations appeals. Yesterday, I was asked about possible missile talks scheduled between the United States and North Korea. I did check on that. The North Koreans have indicated to the United States their willingness to hold a second round of United States-North Korean missile talks very soon. We are currently working on the exact date and location for such a meeting, but I think it will be held quite soon. As usual, our great expert on these matters, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Robert Einhorn will head the U.S. delegation. I'm not aware who will head the North Korean delegation. The last such talks were one year ago, April 1996, in Berlin. Q: When is it? BURNS: We are working on the date and location for the talks, Sid. I expect to have something for you very shortly on that because I think that's being worked out. Q: Any word from the North Koreans on the Four Party talks? BURNS: No word yet from the North Koreans. We're hoping for word soon. Q: There's a bit of confusion. The North Koreans have said they've requested another high-level briefing, at the level of the Four Party talks briefing which makes it appear that the ball is kind of in the U.S. court now as to whether -- can you clear it up? BURNS: As I understand it, there are no definite plans at the moment for a higher level meeting. The North Koreans have indicated to us their willingness to meet soon, to respond formally to the proposals that were made by the United States and the South Koreans. This was back in early March. I believe it was March 5th in New York, as you remember. That's what we're waiting for. We assume they're going to come back to us and say, "Let's have another meeting." Whether that's a briefing or whether that's a forum for the North Koreans to make a formal response to us on the proposal for Four Party talks, we'll have to see but we think it's going to be the latter. Of course, we'll remain flexible here. We want to talk to the North Koreans -- we and the South Koreans. We want to further these discussions. We want to make progress so that the Four Party talks can begin. Q: Just on the missile talks. Could you sort of bring us up to date on what you want out of the missile talks, what kind of things you'll be discussing? BURNS: These talks are designed, as they were one year ago this month, to review the adherence by North Korea to international standards on the safeguarding of missile technology. As you know, the United States has placed proliferation and missile proliferation as one of the most important issues in our foreign policy agenda our global foreign policy agenda. Whenever we can engage in talks with countries like North Korea or China on these issues, we do so. So that's a general response, Sid. If you're looking for a more specific agenda, I can consult with Bob Einhorn and get back to you. Q: Would you like them to join the MTCR? BURNS: Excuse me? Q: Would you like them to sign on to the MTCR? BURNS: Obviously, we want to see the broadest possible inclusion of countries in the MTCR, because that's the major international regime that governs that tries to limit the proliferation of missile technology and missiles themselves. But, if you'd like, I can consult with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Einhorn and see if we can get you something more specific before these talks are held. Q: Maybe you could talk to us after the talks. BURNS: That's another possibility. We'll see.