GI Korea explains what Philip Goldberg was doing in Malaysia.
By the way, let me add my belated good wishes to GI Korea on the fifth anniversary of the founding of his blog. The fact that it’s one of two with feeds on my sidebar should be some testament to my high regard for the amount and quality of information he posts (NKEconWatch would be the third if its RSS worked there). It’s one of my daily reads, and the same appears to be true of much of the USFK, judging by his comments section. Happy anniversary, GI, and I look forward to the next five.
Update: Ambassador Goldberg’s remarks on his trip, below the fold.
Remarks by Ambassador Philip Goldberg
Coordinator for Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1874
Press Availability, JW Marriott Hotel
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
July 6, 2009
AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: Good afternoon. We had very good meetings today at the Malaysian Central Bank, with advisors in the Prime Minister’s Office, at the Foreign Ministry, and at the Treasury Ministry. I was accompanied by an interagency delegation from Washington that includes Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Daniel Glaser and a member of the National Security Council. President Obama and Secretary Clinton asked me to take up this position as coordinator for the U.S. side in implementing the U.N. resolutions on North Korea diplomatically, as well as to coordinate within our own departments and agencies in the US government.
Resolution 1874, the most recent U.N. resolution, includes important new provisions on inspections, as well as on financial matters; they are aimed at North Korea’s nuclear and missile technology programs. And so our discussions have been centered on this resolution, as well as the prior resolutions.
I believe it is noteworthy that while North Korea continues to violate these U.N. resolutions, the rest of the world is meeting, discussing, and coordinating our position in implementing them. We were in China at the end of last week and are continuing discussions with the Chinese government this week in Beijing and in Washington on the diplomacy, as well as the resolutions. I want to stress that our goal is in no way to damage or punish the North Korean people, but rather, to use this opportunity to return to our original goal – a goal shared by all of the international community – which is dialogue through the Six Party process on denuclearization and non-proliferation in the Korean Peninsula.
We came to Malaysia for several reasons. First, there is a growing partnership between the United States and Malaysia which includes non-proliferation issues. Some of you may know that President Obama and Prime Minister Najib had a good conversation at the end of last week on ways to strengthen those ties. Secretary Clinton met with the Malaysian Foreign Minister in Washington, also in that spirit.
Malaysia plays an important role in the region, in ASEAN, and we very much wanted to touch base – in addition to going to China – with an ASEAN country to discuss the way forward in this part of Asia. And we did that today.
Finally, Malaysia has expertise in the financial sector, and experience that we hope to tap as we move forward as an international community within the UN, to implement the U.N. resolution. Again, with our overall goal being a return to serious and meaningful discussions about denuclearization and non-proliferation. That is our goal, and we look at the resolutions as a way to get back to our original purpose.
I would be happy to try to answer questions.
QUESTION: So there is a report saying that your purpose here is because some Malaysian banks are involved in the transfer of monies for North Korea to Myanmar for their weapons. So could you confirm this?
AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: We came for the reasons that I mentioned, which include Malaysia’s experience and expertise in financial areas, our cooperation within ASEAN and within the region to implement the resolutions, not for any specific matter. Although, we will continue to share information with many countries about activities on North Korean nuclear and proliferation activities. We think that it is important to share that information and to make sure that whatever trade is taking place, whatever financial activities are taking place, are legal and do not violate the U.N. resolutions. These are not things that give us great pleasure, but they are necessary to return to a meaningful process on denuclearization and non-proliferation.
QUESTION: I would like to ask, what do you think of Malaysia’s compliance with the sanctions? And the second part of my question, is the U.S. Treasury considering its own measures to clamp down on North Korean finances with suspected links to illicit trade?
AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: As for Malaysia, I think what we found both in China and Malaysia, and with our other diplomatic contacts over the past couple of weeks, is a seriousness of purpose from all the countries in the region in implementing the resolutions. We now are down to the question of brass tacks about how you do that, information-sharing, and cooperation. So as a general principle, we have gotten a good response from countries, including Malaysia. This is a UN obligation. This is a multilateral obligation. It is something that is important for countries that believe in the international system and international law. As for our own position, our intention is to fully implement the U.N. resolutions. And insofar as we have measures that can be used to implement them – within the confines of what we have set out – but also to press home that the need for greater transparency and greater ability to shine a light on North Korea’s activities, we will take them.
QUESTION: So are you dismissing these reports that North Korean funds are being channelled through Malaysian banks?
AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: What I would say is that we are sharing information; I was referring to speculation about one particular matter. We are sharing information, we want to make sure that the whole international banking system is safe and secure, and it is the responsibility of every government. And we will share information as it becomes available, with the Malaysian government and with other governments, about possible uses of the banking system that are outside of those principles. And I think there is a very strong willingness from Malaysia and from other countries to do their part. It is a complicated matter, it is a complicated area, in looking at the financial sector. But we all have that responsibility, and we will share information when it is at our disposal. Thank you.