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U.S. Envoys Visit Asia to Boost North Korea Talks
By Paul Tighe
Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is sending envoys to Japan, China and
South Korea this weekend to ensure the resumption of talks with North Korea on
dismantling its nuclear program is ``effective,'' the State Department said.
Nicholas Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of state, and Robert Joseph, the
undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, will arrive
in Tokyo Nov. 5, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said yesterday in
``We don't want to go backward'' in the six-nation talks, McCormack said. ``We don't want this just to be about talk. We want it to be about getting some concrete, positive outcomes.''
North Korea tested its first atomic bomb Oct. 9, prompting the United Nations Security Council to impose economic sanctions. The communist nation said this week it will return to the six- nation talks on the condition that the issue of U.S. financial
sanctions imposed last October is discussed and settled. China will host the next meeting at a date still to be fixed. Russia is also a member of the six-nation forum.
Burns and Joseph will visit Beijing Nov. 6 and South Korea's capital, Seoul, two days later, according to a ``tentative schedule,'' McCormack said at a briefing. They plan to meet Russian officials during their visit to Beijing.
They will ``talk about how to create the right conditions, the best atmosphere to prepare for this next round of six-party talks, in order to make it an effective round,'' he said.
The forum's declaration in September 2005 that the Korean peninsula should be free of nuclear weapons should be the starting point for the discussions, McCormack said.
UN Sanctions The envoys' talks in Asia will include making sure the UN
sanctions are effective, President George W. Bush said in a Nov. 1 interview at
the White House.
The Security Council this week approved three lists containing hundreds of items North Korea is barred from acquiring, including materials that could be used to produce biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them.
UN members have until Nov. 13 to report on how they are implementing the sanctions. The U.S. imposed its financial sanctions in October 2005 for alleged North Korean money- laundering and counterfeiting.
The North Korean issue can be settled peacefully through the six-nations forum, Bush said in the interview. ``Success will mean that the North Koreans verifiably give up their weapons and weapons programs,' he said.
``And success for them will mean they won't be isolated and there's a better way
forward for their people.''
The U.S. will set up a working group to discuss North Korea's opposition to U.S. sanctions, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said in Beijing Oct. 31. The measures were imposed after the U.S. Treasury Department targeted North Korean accounts in Macau's Banco Delta Asia SARL.
The department alleged Banco Delta laundered money from North Korea and worked with front companies trafficking drugs for Kim Jong Il's regime. The sanctions have resulted in the freezing of $24 million in North Korean accounts in the bank since September 2005. The Macau government has since taken control of the bank.
Japan introduced its
own sanctions in response to North Korea's nuclear test, including a ban on all
imports from North Korea and prohibiting the country's vessels from docking at
Japanese ports. Direct talks with North Korea would be premature now that the
six-nation talks are resuming, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said yesterday
Japan wants North Korea to resolve questions about what happened
to Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.
South Korea won't reward North Korea by easing sanctions for agreeing to
return to the forum, Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung Hwan told lawmakers earlier
this week in Seoul.
The six-nation talks may be held after the Nov. 18-19
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Hanoi, Yu said.
North Korea's nuclear test hasn't tipped the military balance on the Korean peninsula, South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun said yesterday in Seoul.
``We will not, under any circumstance, condone a nuclear North Korea,'' Roh said. ``We will strive for North Korea's dismantling of nuclear weapons at all costs.''
The UN sanctions are a result of the international community speaking with ``one,
strong voice,'' U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday on the
"Jack Rice Show'' on radio in the U.S.
``Perhaps they are beginning to realize that whatever value they may think the nuclear weapons program has, it's just going to deepen their isolation,'' Rice said, according to a State Department transcript.
To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Tighe in
Sydney at email@example.com