This developing story was last updated at 5:28 p.m. on Friday. Check back for further details. A complete account will be published in the February 23 edition of the Orient.
At Common Hour today, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill '74 defended the agreement with North Korea reached just three days ago at the six-party talks in Beijing. According to Hill, while the current pact does not provide for the complete denuclearization of North Korea, it is an important first step.
?The North Koreans are unlikely to wake up one morning and say, 'Let?s get rid of our nuclear weapons,'" Hill said in his Common Hour address.
Hill maintained that the agreement sets up a framework for continued negotiations and progress on denuclearizing North Korea.
?This agreement is not the end of the story, but these are steps we have to take,? he said.
In a press conference after Common Hour, Hill responded to criticism regarding the agreement. He defended the negotiating process as a means to resolve the North Korea?s nuclear buildup.
?I would say that when you look at the flaws of any negotiating process, you have to consider what the alternative is,? Hill said. ?Often they say you shouldn?t negotiate, but then so what are you going to do if you don?t negotiate??
He added, ?So I think it behooves the critics to come up with a plan of their own, and I haven?t seen one.?
During his Common Hour address, Hill emphasized the importance of the multilateral approach to negotiating with North Korea. According to Hill, the multilateral approach increases the likelihood that North Korea will comply with the agreement.
?I think for North Koreans to walk away from a deal with us is one thing,? he said. ?For North Koreans to walk away from a deal with all their neighbors is quite something else.?
In particular, Hill cited China as being ?very key to the whole process.? Traditionally, China has maintained close diplomatic ties with North Korea, but relations were strained after North Korea conducted nuclear tests last October.
?The difference between this arrangement and previous arrangements is that we would have in this arrangement China as one of the main guarantors of the process. So that is very useful to us,? Hill said in the press conference.
Hill added that the Chinese were ?extraordinarily pragmatic? in their approach to the negotiations.
?The Chinese themselves are most like us, very ?transactionally? minded,? he said.
Hill also highlighted the significance of the United States working with China on such an important international issue.
?I would say one of the other benefits of the six-party talks?quite apart from the question of whether we can convince North Korea to give up nuclear weapons?is that the U.S. and China have become closer as a result of our cooperating in this process,? Hill said. ?We absolutely share the goals with them.?
Responding to a question from the audience after the address, Hill discussed how the progress on the denuclearization of North Korea could influence negotiations with Iran.
?I think if this works, people will look to it as a model,? Hill said.
Specifically, Hill cited the strength of the negotiation framework used in the six-party talks.
?We embedded bilateral processes within a multilateral framework,? Hill said.
More than 30 years after leaving Bowdoin, Hill considers his experiences on the lacrosse field as relevant to his career as a diplomat.
?Frankly it sounds silly, but playing on team sports? on the lacrosse team?was very important because diplomacy is definitely a team sport.?
Hill said he will be returning to the lacrosse field this spring for an alumni game at Bowdoin.