WORLD / Asia-Pacific
North Korea not budging on sanctions(AP)
Updated: 2006-12-21 13:52
US envoy Christopher Hill expressed frustration with Pyongyang's insistence that US financial restrictions be lifted before it dismantles its nuclear program.
"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 said.
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