BEIJING - North Korea has
refused to scrap its demand that the US lift financial restrictions against
the country, but talks resumed Thursday to resolve the broader issue of
persuading the nation to renounce its nuclear efforts.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing,
third from right, initiates a joining of hands after a group photo of top
envoys to six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons Wednesday, Dec.
20, 2006, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. From left are,
Japan's Kenichiro Sasae, Russia's Sergey Razov, North Korea's Kim Kye
Gwan, Li, the United States' Christopher Hill and South Korea's Chung
The Chinese and North Korean delegations met bilaterally at the Diaoyutai
State Guesthouse and other one-on-one discussions were planned for later
Thursday, the press center said.
US envoy Christopher Hill expressed frustration with Pyongyang's insistence
that US financial restrictions be lifted before it dismantles its nuclear
"This is not an easy stage," Hill said. "It is difficult engaging them (the
North Koreans) on other subjects when they have come in with a strong view on
the financial issue. This is a challenge we face."
Hill said that North Korea's Oct. 9 nuclear test showed that denuclearizing
the country is an "urgent problem."
"I'd rather not obscure that urgent problem by talking about finances," he
Hill said he had separate meetings planned with China, Japan, South Korea and
North Korea. He also said there were several draft proposals circulating among
delegates but he refused to give details.
US and North Korean experts discussed the US financial restrictions for five
hours Wednesday, their second day of meetings this week that are separate from
the arms talks, but made no breakthroughs and planned no further meetings.
North Korea agreed to end a 13-month boycott of the talks to discuss a
Washington campaign seeking to isolate the nation from the international banking
system. The US alleges the North is involved in a range of illegal activity,
including counterfeiting US$100 bills and money laundering.
Daniel Glaser, the Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary for
terrorist financing and financial crimes who is leading the US delegation, said
the talks at the North Korean Embassy were "businesslike and useful."
Glaser said he would possibly meet the North Koreans next month in New York.
"For this process moving forward to be productive and useful, it's going to
have to start focusing very, very closely on the underlying concerns of illicit
finance," he told reporters. "We hope to get to do that."
The separate, six-nation nuclear talks are to continue until at least Friday,
but negotiators said that does not mean results are guaranteed by then.
"The financial issues are a major interest for North Korea," Japanese envoy
Kenichiro Sasae said after the third day of discussions in Beijing.
Sasae pleaded with North Korea to put aside that issue at the nuclear talks.
"I think it is not realistic to treat the financial issue as a major block
while putting the broader discussion on hold," Sasae said.
However, North Korea said it would be willing to halt operation of its
main nuclear reactor and allow international inspectors "under the right
conditions," a South Korean official said on condition of anonymity due to the