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US To Hold More Talks With North Korea On Frozen Accounts

Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt.
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Nov 8, 2006
The US Treasury said Wednesday it would hold more talks with North Korea about the freezing of its accounts in a Macau bank, a key obstacle to restarting negotiations on its nuclear weapons program. Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt said the talks would be a continuation of discussions in March in New York.

He made no reference to the condition North Korea set last week for rejoining the six-nation disarmament negotiations -- that the financial curbs be "discussed and settled... within the framework of the six-party talks."

Kimmitt was speaking to reporters after meeting Chun Yung-Woo, South Korea's lead delegate to the six-nation forum, which has been stalled for a year.

He said he and Chun discussed "the roles the Treasury Department will play in the separate bilateral mechanism in which there will be discussions with North Koreans of the BDA (Banco Delta Asia) case, and the basis under which we took the action that we did."

"This will be a continuation of the talks we had with the North Koreans that began in New York in March of this year."

The US blacklisted the Macau accounts within days of an apparent breakthrough in the six-party talks in September 2005.

The North agreed in principle to scrap its nuclear programmes in return for energy and economic aid and security guarantees. But it boycotted the talks two months later in protest at the US financial curbs.

The US pressed the Macau bank and others in Asia to blacklist North Korean accounts, saying it suspected the funds were linked to counterfeiting of dollars and other illicit activities.

Kimmitt said the BDA measures were not sanctions. "They are law enforcement measures under the laws of the US and other jurisdictions."

The Macau accounts were the key issue in the North's decision to return to the talks, announced on October 31.

US lead negotiator Christopher Hill said at the time the North Koreans "wanted to hear that we would address the issue of the financial measures in the context of the talks.

"And I said we would be prepared to create a mechanism, or working group and to address these financial issues," Hill added.

Seoul government officials have said the Treasury and State Department appear at odds on the issue, with the State Department seeking flexibility but the Treasury saying the financial row is unrelated to the nuclear negotiations.

South Korean media, quoting experts or sources, said last week that US Treasury investigators had found that up to half of the 24 million dollars frozen in the Macau bank was from legal sources.

The US Treasury declined to comment.

Kimmitt Tuesday visited Japan, where he called for implementation of UN sanctions imposed on North Korea for its October 9 nuclear test.

Experts say North Korea has traded in narcotics, counterfeit cigarettes and other items in addition to fake 100-dollar bills known as "supernotes" for their high quality.

David Asher, from the US Institute for Defense Analyses, in May estimated the total value of North Korea's illegal trade at between 450 million and 550 million dollars per year, as much as 35-40 percent of total exports.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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India Halts Pakistan Border Goose-Stepping Ahead Of Talks
Wagah (AFP) India, Nov 8, 2006
Indian troops guarding the country's only land transit point to Pakistan have halted an aggressive military ceremony ahead of a resumption of talks next week, officials said Wednesday. When troops from the nuclear-armed rivals shut the Wagah border post every sunset, they usually do so with an elaborate ceremony involving a furious goose-step and the slamming of gates.

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