US, North Korea to hold financial talks next week

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Washington, Nov 14: The United States and North Korea will hold two days of talks in New York next week that US officials said today they viewed as a chance to educate North Korea about international financial norms.

The discussions, to take place on Monday and Tuesday, follow the resolution earlier this year of a long-running dispute over roughly 25 million dollar in North Korean funds held in tainted accounts at Macau's Banco Delta Asia bank.

In 2005, the US Treasury Department designated the bank as a ''primary money laundering concern'' and charged it with accepting the proceeds of alleged illicit North Korean activities such as counterfeiting and drug smuggling.

The United States eventually facilitated the return of the money to North Korea to revive a multilateral agreement under which Pyongyang has agreed to abandon its nuclear programs in exchange for aid and diplomatic incentives.

After resolving the BDA issue, US officials said they would open up a channel in which to discuss financial matters with officials from the secretive, Stalinist state.

''We think it's an opportunity to familiarize the North Koreans with accepted international banking practices and problems that have affected North Korean access to the international financial system,'' said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

He said the US Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glazer would lead the US delegation.

A Treasury official, who asked not to be identified, said officials from the State Department and the US Secret Service, which investigates counterfeiting and other financial crimes, would attend.

''The focus will be on North Korea's illicit financial activity, internationally recognized norms and standards for operating in the international financial system, and steps that the DPRK should take to be re-integrated into the international financial system,'' the official said, referring to Pyongyang by its formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.


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