U.S. Vows to Loosen North Korea's Purse Strings in 30 Days

The main U.S. nuclear envoy said Tuesday that Washington had pledged to resolve financial restrictions against a bank where North Korea held accounts within a month.

Washington's blacklisting of a Macau bank in September 2005 had been an obstacle to nuclear talks, leading the North to a more-than-yearlong boycott during which it tested its first nuclear bomb.

"We will resolve the matter of the financial sanctions relating to (Banco Delta Asia) within 30 days," Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said.

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Hill also said that Washington was satisfied with an agreement on initial steps for North Korea to disarm, but called it just the start of the process.

"Obviously we have a long way to go, but we're very pleased with this agreement," Hill told reporters. "It's a very solid step forward."

Hill said the North Koreans had insisted that the specific amount of aid they were to receive in the agreement was spelled out during the six-nation negotiations — and not left to a later working group to address — as the U.S. had wanted.

In return, Hill said the negotiators moved to also discuss the next step in disarmament, the actual disabling of the North's programs so they could not easily be restarted.

"We took what was essentially a sticking point and used it as a way to make further progress on the road to denuclearization," he said.

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