Beijing (AFP) March 27, 2007
The US Treasury's pointman on financial crime held a second day of talks here in a bid to end a sanctions dispute that has held up nuclear disarmament talks, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Daniel Glaser, the deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, held talks with officials from China's foreign ministry, the central bank and the country's banking industry regulator, said spokeswoman Molly Millerwise.
Glaser had met with the Chinese the day before, following talks Monday night with officials at the North Korean embassy.
Millerwise said the two sides discussed how to implement a deal announced last week that would see 25 million dollars frozen in a Macau bank due to accusations of money laundering and counterfeiting returned to North Korea.
Glaser was joined in Tuesday's talks by US Ambassador to China Sandy Randt, as well as Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, chair of the six-nation talks on dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, Millerwise said.
She did not offer any other specifics about the meetings or say when a resolution was likely.
However the chief US envoy to the six-nation talks, Christopher Hill, said in Washington on Monday that he expected the issue to be resolved in a couple of days.
The nuclear talks broke down last week after North Korea refused to enter a new round of negotiations until the 25 million dollars was safely returned.
The money was supposed to be transferred quickly to a North Korean account with the Bank of China.
However the state-owned lender has reportedly refused to accept the money for fear the transaction may hurt its credit rating.
earlier related report
The US Treasury is working with Beijing to transfer 25 million dollars frozen in 2005 in Macau's Banco Delta Asia, which the United States suspects are North Korea's proceeds from counterfeiting and money laundering.
Christopher Hill, the top US envoy to the six-party nuclear talks, said that based on his discussions with a senior US Treasury official in Beijing the dispute could end this week, paving the way for North Korea to shut down its main nuclear reactor and allowing back into the country UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.
"As we get through this banking issue -- I believe we will in the next couple of days -- North Korea will have further discussions with the IAEA and by the early part of April -- certainly by the first half of April -- we will have the reactor shut down, sealed and we will have international inspectors back," Hill told a Washington forum.
Pyongyang has agreed to admit IAEA inspectors as part of an agreement by the United States, Russia, China, the two Koreas and Japan on February 13 setting a timetable for the North to begin disarming.
The US effectively blacklisted the Macau bank on suspicion it was handling the proceeds of North Korean counterfeiting and money-laundering, but Washington cleared the way for the release of the funds as part of the nuclear accord.
However, the fund's designated recipient, state-owned Bank of China, has allegedly refused to accept the money for fear the transaction may hurt its credit rating.
The latest round of six-party disarmament talks ended abruptly in Beijing on Thursday after Pyongyang refused to negotiate until it received the cash.
In Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Tuesday a resumption of talks was "extremely likely" once North Korea gets the money.
"I think the six-way talks could resume next week as I heard that transferring the funds will be complete in the next couple of days," he told reporters.
Daniel Glaser, the US Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, flew to Beijing at the weekend and held talks with officials from China's foreign ministry, the central bank and the country's banking industry regulator in a bid to break the financial impasse.
Glaser and his delegation met with North Korean officials at Pyongyang's embassy in Beijing late Monday to discuss how to implement last week's deal, his spokeswoman said.
"We are committed to working through this issue as quickly as possible," spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said without giving further details of the discussions or saying when a resolution was likely.
Earlier in Washington, Hill said he had talked to Glaser.
"He is working very hard but it is a difficult process and there are a lot of technical problems which were unforeseen by everybody, including me," Hill told reporters after the forum.
"But we want to get it done so that the North Koreans will have no excuse" but to shut down the Yongbyon reactor by the middle of April as scheduled.
Hill stressed that the United States had done everything possible for North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program and warned Pyongyang that if it turned down the latest deal, it would face the wrath of the international community.
"If the North Koreans turn down this process, if they ultimately don't want to denuclearize, we can try another path," he said.
"When we do try another path, we won't be alone. We will be with a lot of other countries that have seen we have done all we can do," he said. "It is now up to the North Koreans."
Source: Agence France-Presse
Email This ArticleCIA Chief Says North Korea Not Nuclear Power
Seoul (AFP) Mar 28, 2007
Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Hayden has said the United States does not recognise North Korea as a nuclear power because its first atomic test last October was a failure, a report said Wednesday.
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