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Archive for Friday, December 22, 2006

N. Korea focuses on bank issues

December 22, 2006

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— The U.S. envoy to talks on dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program said today that there were no signs of a breakthrough and accused the communist state of not being serious about the negotiations.

Asked if there were any indications of a breakthrough ahead of the last day of talks today, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said, "No, I am not aware of any."

After four days of negotiations in the wake of North Korea's Oct. 9 nuclear test, the North has refused to get into substantive discussions on its atomic weapons, envoys said. Instead, the North has complained about the U.S. blacklisting a Macau bank, where the regime allegedly laundered money to help fund its weapons programs.

"When the DPRK raises problems, one day it's financial issues, another day it's something they want but they know they can't have, another day it's something we said about them that hurt their feelings," Hill said. DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

"What they need to do is to get serious about the issue that made them such a problem : their nuclear activities," he said.

Japanese envoy Kenichiro Sasae delivered a similar assessment late Thursday.

"The situation remains severe and there is no prospect for a breakthrough," he said.

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