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Talks On North Korean Banking Row Enter Second Week In China

Daniel Glaser, the US deputy assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, has been meeting with officials from China's foreign ministry, the central bank and the country's banking industry regulator, his spokeswoman said last week. He also held at least one meeting with North Korean officials, also to try to resolve the impasse.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 02, 2007
Negotiations over the release of millions of dollars claimed by Pyongyang dragged into a second week on Monday, with no sign of progress in the impasse that has held up North Korean nuclear talks.

Top US Treasury official Daniel Glaser was still in Beijing after holding days of meetings with Chinese officials on the issue last week, a US embassy spokeswoman said.

"I can confirm that he is still here. We don't know how much longer he is going to be here," spokeswoman Susan Stevenson said Monday.

South Korea's negotiator in the nuclear talks also arrived in Beijing on Monday, a South Korean report said.

Lim Sung-nam "will stay in Beijing until Tuesday or Wednesday to look at the progress of the talks to transfer North Korea's money," said an unnamed foreign ministry official quoted by Yonhap news agency.

The meetings were over how to arrange the return to North Korea of about 25 million dollars frozen in a Macau bank by US financial sanctions in 2005 due to accusations of money laundering and counterfeiting.

North Korea is demanding the return of the money before it will cooperate further on a new North Korean nuclear disarmament accord it signed in February. The United States has agreed to free up the funds, which were supposed to be transferred within a month after the February 13 nuclear deal was signed to a North Korean account with the Bank of China.

However, the state-owned lender has reportedly refused to accept the money for fear of possibly affecting its credit rating.

Glaser, the US deputy assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, has been meeting with officials from China's foreign ministry, the central bank and the country's banking industry regulator, his spokeswoman said last week.

He also held at least one meeting with North Korean officials, also to try to resolve the impasse.

Both the United States and China have been tight-lipped about the progress of the talks, and Stevenson said she had no further details.

Christopher Hill, the chief US envoy to the six-nation talks that reached the nuclear accord, said in Washington at the start of Glaser's visit a week ago that he expected the banking issue to be resolved in a "couple of days".

Source: Agence France-Presse

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