WORLD / Asia-Pacific
US, N.Korea begin financial meeting(AP)
Updated: 2006-12-19 12:59
BEIJING - The United States and North Korea held talks Tuesday on the financial restrictions Washington imposed on the country for alleged illegal activity.
The meeting coincided with international talks on the North's nuclear program that the North boycotted for 13 months because of the financial restrictions.
A US Embassy official confirmed the meeting had started but gave no details on where they were being held.
The US was represented by Daniel Glaser, the Treasury Department's deputy
assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes. The North
Korean delegation was led by O Kwang Chol, president of the North's Foreign
Trade Bank of Korea.
Earlier in the day, the chief US negotiator no progress has been achieved yet at renewed six-nation talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear arms program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.
As the disarmament talks convened Monday for the first time since the North tested a nuclear device, Pyongyang insisted it be treated as a full-fledged nuclear power. But the United States dismissed the country's opening comments as unsurprising rhetoric and warned time was running out for the North to dismantle its nuclear arsenal or face sanctions.
"In terms of implementing the joint statement, I'd say (there was) not too much progress from yesterday," US negotiator Christopher Hill told reporters early Tuesday.
Hill was referring to the North's September 2005 agreement to abandon its nuclear arms program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.
The US negotiator said Monday he wanted to see a willingness from the North Koreans to implement their elements of the agreement.
"The supply of our patience may have exceeded the international demand for that patience, and we should be a little less patient and pick up the pace and work faster," Hill said.
Hill said he would meet separately Tuesday morning with officials from China. All chief envoys also met Tuesday in a closed plenary session at the Chinese state guesthouse where the talks are being held.
North Korea had refused to return to the multinational talks in anger over the US blacklisting of a Macau bank where Pyongyang deposited some US$24 million, alleging the bank was complicit in the North's counterfeiting of US$100 bills and money laundering to sell weapons of mass destruction.
On Monday, the North again called for Washington to lift those restrictions and demanded UN sanctions imposed for its nuclear test explosion be lifted, according to a summary of its opening statement released by one of the delegations.
Washington previously agreed to discuss the financial issue at separate talks alongside the nuclear meeting.
Daniel Glaser, the US Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, was in Beijing and ready to talk with the North Koreans about the issue but no schedule had been set yet for the discussions, a US Embassy official said on customary condition of anonymity.
The US side was hopeful that a North Korean financial delegation would arrive Tuesday from Pyongyang and that meetings could happen later in the afternoon, the official said.
Japanese negotiator Kenichiro Sasae told reporters Tuesday that if the US and North Korea meet to discuss the sanctions it might help lift the mood of the talks.
The North demanded again Monday that it be given a nuclear reactor for
electricity generation and also that its struggling economy get other help in
meeting its energy needs until the reactor is built.