U.S. and North Korean finance officials have ended a second round of talks on U.S. financial sanctions against Pyongyang with no clear resolution to the dispute. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing that North Korea has blamed the sanctions for holding up progress on parallel six-nation talks about its nuclear programs.
Talks between the U.S. Treasury Department's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing And Financial Crimes Daniel Glaser and the head of North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank, O Kwang Chol, ended after they held a second and final day of meetings at the North Korean embassy.
Glaser said the two sides went through nearly 50 bank accounts of Macau's Banco Delta Asia bank one by one to try to answer U.S. allegations about North Korean money laundering and other illegal activities at the bank. He described the process as "painstaking", but "very productive."
"We are now in a position after a very lengthy investigation, which as I've said we went through over three hundred thousand documents from Banco Delta Asia," he said. "Now we've had this chance to have this meeting and get a little bit greater understanding of what was going on at the bank, to start moving forward and trying to bring some resolution to this matter."
Glaser would not say what kind of resolution he wanted to reach with the North Koreans or what the North Koreans had to say during the meetings.
He said the two sides intended to continue meeting to discuss suspected illegal activities, including those beyond the Macau bank. But, he said no date has been decided for the next round of financial talks.
The U.S. slapped sanctions on Banco Delta Asia in 2005, alleging it was helping Pyongyang with counterfeiting, money laundering, and other illicit activities.
Those sanctions led to banks in other countries limiting financial deals with North Korea, cutting off much of the isolated country's access to international financing.
But, the sanctions have also been a major obstacle to six-nation negotiations aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programs. Pyongyang delayed talks on its nuclear ambitions for a year over the financial sanctions and only returned to the nuclear talks last December after the U.S. agreed to discuss the sanctions.
Neither set of meetings produced substantial progress as Pyongyang continued to demand the sanctions be lifted before implementing an agreement to end its nuclear programs.
On Tuesday, host China confirmed the six-nation talks, which also include Japan, South Korea, and Russia, would resume next Thursday in Beijing.