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US: Financial Talks with N Korea Separate from Six-Party Talks
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The United States said on Wednesday that the financial talks with North Korea are "separate and distinct" from the six-party talks.

"They are not related to the issues of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said at a briefing.

Meanwhile, Casey said the United States hopes to make "real progress" when the six-party talks resume in Beijing on Feb. 8.

Casey made the comments after the United States and North Korea ended two days of financial talks in Beijing on Wednesday with both sides agreeing to meet again, although no date was set for their next round of talks.

Financial sanctions are one of the key factors that have stalled the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. This was the second set of bilateral talks between the two parties. The first round was held in Beijing last December.

During the six-party talks in September 2005, North Korea signed a statement agreeing to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees from the United States and other countries. However, North Korea later refused to return to the talks as a result of US financial sanctions.

Thanks to various efforts, the six-party talks resumed in December 2006 in Beijing, but tangible progress is yet to be made.

(Xinhua News Agency February 1, 2007)

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