Russia envoy urges US-N.Korea flexibility
SEOUL, Mar 13 (Reuters) A top Russian diplomat urged the United States and North Korea today to show flexibility to resolve their row over US suspicions of the North copying its currency, and get talks on its nuclear programmes back on track.
Washington has cracked down on firms it suspects of aiding North Korea in illicit financial activities, while Pyongyang has said it would be unthinkable for it to return to six-way nuclear discussions unless the United States stops the crackdown.
Gleb Ivashentsov, Russia's ambassador to Seoul, said it was a good sign that US Treasury officials had briefed North Korean officials last week in New York about the financial measures.
''I think finally the issue will be resolved because, as you know, last week a North Korean delegation was in New York to discuss the issue, and we view some positive signs may come up,'' Ivashentsov told foreign reporters.
''I think it will be good if there is more flexibility on both sides,'' he said.
He also said Russia was ready to discuss supplying electricity to the impoverished North once the six parties involved in the talks could agree on a plan to implement an agreement on ending the North's nuclear plans.
US officials met a Pyongyang delegation led by its deputy chief envoy to the nuclear talks, Ri Gun, last week to discuss Washington's crackdown.
North Korean official media today said that Washington was to blame for trying to derail the talks which comprise the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
The North repeated its charge that the counterfeiting issue was a fabrication cooked up by Washington, and insisted that the nuclear talks could not go ahead until Washington dropped what Pyongyang saw as its hostile policy.
''Unless the US gives up its double-dealing attitude toward the six-party talks and hostile policy toward the DPRK, the resumption of the talks and the settlement of the nuclear issue cannot be expected,'' the daily Rodong Sinmun said in an article carried by the KCNA news agency.
DPRK is short for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Ivashentsov declined to say whether Russia agreed with North Korea that the crackdown was an impediment to the nuclear talks.
Washington, Seoul and others have said they see the crackdown as a law-enforcement issue separate from the six-way process.
Separately, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said its new chief envoy to the six-party talks was heading to Japan on Monday for discussions with Japanese officials.
REUTERS PV PM1405