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. US And North Korea Must Settle Sanctions Dispute Says South Korea

Song compared the dispute over US sanctions on North Korea's alleged illegal transactions in Macau to "a traffic accident on the road" for the six-way talks aimed at dismantling North Korean nuclear weapons program.
Seoul (AFP) Dec 05, 2005
South Korea's top nuclear negotiator said Monday that tension over US sanctions imposed on North Korea over alleged money laundering and counterfeiting must be quickly addressed to allow six-nation talks to go ahead.

"The six-way talks and the issue of financing in Macau are not directly related, but they are indirectly affecting each other," Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon told a KBS radio program.

Song compared the dispute over US sanctions on North Korea's alleged illegal transactions in Macau to "a traffic accident on the road" for the six-way talks aimed at dismantling North Korean nuclear weapons program.

"We have to quickly address the situation to secure the passage on the 'six-way talks' road," he said. "It should be handled based on facts and in line with international regulations."

After more than two years of negotiations with the United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia, North Korea agreed in September to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in return for economic and diplomatic benefits.

But the latest round of talks ended in stalemate three weeks ago with Pyongyang accusing Washington of breaching the September agreement by imposing sanctions on its firms.

North Korea has said it will not attend the next round of talks until its demand for an end to the sanctions is met, Japan's Sankei Shimbun daily reported, citing unnamed diplomatic sources in Washington Sunday.

Operations at a bank in Macau have recently been closed down for doing business with North Korean companies, after a US investigator raised concerns about counterfeiting and money laundering.

In October, the United States blacklisted eight North Korean companies allegedly involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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