US, N Korean financial experts meet in Beijing


Wed, Dec 20, 2006 - Page 6

Financial experts from the US and North Korea met yesterday to address Washington's campaign to isolate the North from the international banking system, the key stumbling block blamed for Pyongyang's 13-month boycott of nuclear talks.

The meeting came on the sidelines of six-nation arms talks that entered a second day yesterday with discussions focused on the implementation of a disarmament pledge signed by the North last year. The North Korean and US delegations also held their first one-on-one meeting at the nuclear talks yesterday afternoon, the Chinese press center said.

North Korea had stayed away from the nuclear talks since November last year, claiming that Washington hadn't altered its hostile attitude toward it because the US had blacklisted a Macau bank where the North deposited some US$24 million.

Washington alleged the bank was complicit in Pyongyang's counterfeiting of US$100 bills and money laundering to sell weapons of mass destruction.

US officials have urged other countries to bar any North Korean accounts, saying all the country's transactions are suspect.

Daniel Glaser, the US Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, was in Beijing for the financial meeting. The North Korean delegation that arrived yesterday was led by O Kwang-chol, president of the North's Foreign Trade Bank of Korea.

The talks were being held at the US embassy, an embassy official said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier yesterday, all six chief nuclear envoys met in a closed session at a Chinese state guesthouse for less than two hours, with one-on-one meetings expected later in the day.

US envoy Christopher Hill told reporters yesterday morning that ``not too much progress'' had been made toward implementing last year's agreement.