U.S. to remove financial sanctions on N. Korea in 30 days: Hill

Yonhap
2/13/2007

The top U.S. negotiator in international talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program said Tuesday his country will remove its financial sanctions on the communist nation within a month.

The measure follows Pyongyang’s agreement to “disable” its nuclear-related facilities and programs in return for economic and diplomatic benefits.

“We will resolve the matter of the financial sanctions” within 30 days, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters as he returned from a six-party talks meeting, at which North Korea agreed to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear complex in two months.

His remarks partly confirmed an earlier report by a pro-Pyongyang newspaper that the U.S. nuclear envoy had last month promised his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye-gwan, to remove the financial restrictions within 30 days after progress in the nuclear negotiations.

The two held three days of meetings in Berlin, which were followed by two-day talks between the countries’ financial officials in Beijing later that month.

North Korea had stayed away from the nuclear talks for over a year after the U.S. imposed sanctions on a Macau bank with suspected links to the North’s illicit financial activities in September 2005.

The six-party talks resumed late last year after a 13-month hiatus, but they again failed to produce a breakthrough as North Korea refused to discuss the nuclear issue, and instead stuck to its demand for the U.S. to remove the financial sanctions.

Tuesday’s agreement marked a milestone in negotiations that had made little progress since they began in 2003.

North Korea is to shut down the Yongbyon complex, which includes a nuclear reprocessing facility, within 60 days, and receive “emergency energy assistance equivalent to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil,” the statement said.

The nuclear talks are also attended by South Korea, the U.S., Japan, Russia and host China.

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