U.S. and North Korea to Meet Next Week Over Financial Restrictions

The United States and North Korea will resume talks next week in Beijing on financial restrictions that have been a sticking point in separate negotiations about the communist-led regime's nuclear program.

Daniel Glaser, the Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, plans to meet next Tuesday with his North Korean counterparts, the department said Friday. The new round of talks will follow up on previous discussions in December that were also held in Beijing.

The United States in 2005 moved to financially clamp down on North Korea, a move that angered Pyongyang and had — until recently — kept the country away from six-nation nuclear arms talks. The talks are aimed at persuading North Korea to dismantle its atomic weapons program.

The six-nations — North Korea, South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia — did meet in December, but they ended with no apparent progress due to the dispute over the U.S. financial restrictions on North Korea and its alleged counterfeiting of $100 bills and money laundering. Another round of arms discussions is expected soon.

South Korean's foreign minister, Song Min-soon, said the second round of arms talks may be held before Feb. 10, according to a news report on Friday from the Yonhap news agency.

The financial action that the United States took in 2005 that so angered North Korea was against a bank — Banco Delta Asia SARL — in Macau, a special administrative district of China. The United States alleged that the bank helped North Korea distribute counterfeit currency and engage in other illicit activities. The bank had provided financial services for more than 20 years to North Korean government agencies.

As a result of the U.S. clampdown, some $24 million in North Korean accounts has been frozen at the bank.

Glaser's talks next week will touch on a range of financial matters including the "international community's concerns about illicit financial conduct" involving North Korea as well as "financial measures taken by the United States to combat illicit financial flows," the department said.

The United States has accused Pyongyang of spreading weapons and missile technology to other countries, counterfeiting U.S. currency and trafficking drugs. The United States has taken various actions to financially incapacitate the country.

A news report Friday quoted South Korea's foreign minister, Song Min-soon, as saying the next round of international talks on North Korea's nuclear program should resume early next month.

He made the comments to South Korean correspondents in Beijing, according to Yonhap news agency, a day after he met with his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing, and State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan.

Song said an agreement on action plans should be made in the next round of talks to implement a 2005 pact in which North Korea pledged to disarm in return for aid and security guarantees.

Song and Li agreed to cooperate in seeking a "new breakthrough" at the next round of nuclear talks, South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple diplomats in Beijing. China, the host of the talks, is North Korea's only major ally.