US and N.Korea plan sanction talks: Seoul

Updated: 2007-01-08 17:29

SEOUL - The United States and North Korea have tentatively agreed to meet later this month to discuss a crackdown on the North's finances that has stalled talks on curbing Pyongyang's nuclear plans, South Korea said on Monday.

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At six-country nuclear talks last month in Beijing, North Korea said it would not scrap its atomic weapons program until the United States ended its financial sanctions.

South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon said after meetings in Washington over the past few days that a compromise on holding talks on the financial measures might have been reached.

"No date has been fixed yet, but I was told North Korea and the US have provisionally reached a compromise to hold it in the week starting on January 22," he said on the weekend, according to a Web posting on South Korea's Overseas Information Service.

US and North Korean financial officials have met before, including on the sidelines last month at the nuclear talks in Beijing, to discuss the measures.

The United States has said it will not back down on its crackdown on firms it suspects of aiding North Korea in illicit activities such as counterfeiting. Washington said the move was a law enforcement measure not related to the nuclear talks.

The UN Security Council imposed sanctions on North Korea after it defied international warnings and conducted its first nuclear test on October 9.

Last Friday, the United States warned North Korea of deeper isolation if the North conducts a second atomic test, amid a report from American TV network ABC that Pyongyang has been preparing to detonate nuclear another device.

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