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U.S., North Still Far Apart on Talks

Posted November. 02, 2006 03:01,   


The North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated on November 1, “We will go to the talks under the premise that the financial sanction issues will be discussed by North Korea and the U.S. within the six-party framework.”

This is in opposition to the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill’s statement a day earlier after the meeting between the heads of three countries of North Korea, the United States, and China, who stated, “North Korea did not set any preconditions on returning to the talks.”

North Korea and the U.S. have shown radical differences in approaching the financial sanction issue. The United States maintain that they could “talk” about the sanctions within the six-party framework, but North Korea approaches the “settlement” of the issue as a due conclusion.

Hill stated a day earlier that “the talks will deal with North Korea’s concerns on the financial sanctions imposed by the U.S., but probably through the working groups,” highlighting the difference in tone with the North Korean statement.

But part of the South Korean government carefully speculates that Pyongyang and Washington may have reached a tentative agreement on the frozen North Korean account of Macao’s Banco Delta Asia (BDA), which Pyongyang has taken issue with. After the U.S. releases a report about its investigation on BDA, the issue could be settled through domestic legal procedures of Macao.

In addition, among the funds in BDA, experts speculate that legal and illegal funds will be separated, and sanctions may be loosened on the legal portions.

But the South Korean government conceded that North Korea agreed to return to the talks without any preconditions. Since the U.S. started the sanctions on BDA on September last year, preconditions that “return to the six-party talks will not be possible without the withdrawal of financial sanctions,” had been relaxed.

On the failure to set a definite date for the resumption of the six-party talks during the North Korea-U.S.-China three party talks, some conjectured that the U.S. and North Korea could not reach a final conclusion due to different preconditions. But a source from the South Korean government said, “[The failure to set the date] was due to the need of working-level discussions on available dates for participants.”