Fri, Nov 03, 2006 - Page 1 News List

US keen to tackle financial obstacles to six-party talks

AP , SEOUL

The main US envoy to South Korea said yesterday that Washington will seek to resolve financial restrictions on the North that have hindered nuclear talks, after Pyongyang agreed to return to the negotiations following its nuclear test.

US Ambassador Alexander Vershbow said Washington has agreed to form a working group on the financial issue amid the six-nation nuclear talks that North Korea agreed this week to rejoin -- the first sign of a relaxation of tensions after the North's Oct. 9 nuclear explosion.

"We want to resolve these issues because we do want to have a normal relationship with North Korea," Vershbow said in a lecture to university students, referring to the standoff between Washington and Pyongyang over US moves to cut off the communist nation's access to foreign banks for alleged illicit activities like counterfeiting and money laundering.

Pyongyang has said it will seek to have the financial restrictions lifted at the resumed talks, last held in November last year. They involve the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the US.

No date has been set for the next round of talks, but South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said on Wednesday it would be held after the APEC summit scheduled for Nov. 18-19 in Vietnam.

China said the sooner the talks resume, the better.

"It is our belief that it would be better to hold the meeting as early as possible," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao (劉建超) said at a regular news briefing.

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