Negotiators from the United States and North Korea continued
their meeting in Berlin on Wednesday to discuss how to make "real
progress" when the six-party talks resume, the United States State
Department said on Wednesday.
US envoy Christopher Hill has described his talks with North
Korea's Kim Kye-Gwan in Berlin as useful and productive, said State
Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey.
Officials said Washington's willingness to talk directly with
Pyongyang as North Korea has long demanded suggested a readiness to
compromise on areas such as the desired crackdown on the East Asian
country's finances, despite its defiant nuclear test last
Several officials in Washington said they believed the Bush
administration was inclined to find a solution to the dispute over
North Korea's accounts at a Macao bank, which it has called "a
willing pawn" in Pyongyang's illicit financial deals.
Tuesday's bilateral talks between Hill and Kim were the first
outside the framework of six-party nuclear talks in Beijing since
their beginning in 2003.
South Korea Foreign Minister Song Min-soon said the meeting
should bring the two sides a step closer to implementing a key
agreement on ending North Korean nuclear arms program which was
struck in September 2005.
"The work now being done is to bring tangible results when the
six-party talks take place next time", Song said. "There will have
to be a good platform laid at this meeting for reaching an
agreement on early steps on implementing the September 19 joint
In that statement, hammered out in talks with South Korea, the
United States, Japan, Russia and China, Pyongyang agreed to give up
its nuclear arms in exchange for economic aid and security
The talks later became mired over Pyongyang's complaint that a
US attack on its financial activities proved Washington's
continuing hostility to its leaders.
The United States has since agreed to meet North Korea officials
separately on the financial crackdown and is looking at the
possibility of releasing some of the North Korea's funds it froze,
US officials said.
The separate meeting of US and North Korean financial officials
are set to resume next week in New York.
"They are taking another look at this issue", said one US
official. "There is active discussion within the administration on
whether to make concessions and if so, how far, how fast and under
US authorities are scrutinizing a number of North Korean
accounts at the Macao bank to see if funds from the North's
legitimate business can be separated from illicit cash flow, one of
the officials said on the condition of anonymity.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily via agencies January