|Washington's ambassador to South Korea says the
United States and its partners will be patient in the diplomatic process
with North Korea, but that Pyongyang should not expect an open-ended
process that does not yield progress. U.S. leaders say they want major
aspects of a North Korean denuclearization pledge implemented by the time
President Bush leaves office. VOA's Kurt Achin has more from
U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow says Washington is willing to keep
engaging Pyongyang at the diplomatic table, but he warns that talks alone
are not enough.
"We're not looking for endless talks without results," he said. "We
would like to achieve results as soon as possible - in the financial
discussions, and in the central arena, the talks on
Vershbow made the comments Tuesday evening at an academic forum in
U.S. Treasury officials are meeting this week in Beijing with North
Korean officials to discuss Washington's financial sanctions on the North.
Six-nation talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs
resume next week in the Chinese capital.
Although Washington maintains the financial talks and the nuclear talks
are not linked, most experts say in reality North Korea has succeeded in
forcing a linkage between the two.
The financial talks deal with the blacklisting of a bank in Macau that
Washington says aided North Korean counterfeiting and laundering money.
Washington imposed the sanctions in September 2005, just days after North
Korea signed a pledge with China, Russia, Japan, the United States and
South Korea to dismantle its nuclear capabilities.
Pyongyang responded by walking away from the nuclear talks for more
than a year.
Washington says the banking sanctions are a law enforcement matter,
unconnected to the nuclear issue, and that the only way out of the
sanctions is for North Korea to demonstrate its days of illegal financing
are over. However, Pyongyang, which denies any wrongdoing, only returned
to the nuclear talks in December after Washington agreed to discuss the
Ambassador Vershbow says there should be significant progress toward
implementing North Korea's 2005 pledge before President Bush leaves office
in January 2009.
"We certainly are hoping to achieve a complete solution before that
particular term is up - and we think that's doable, that there's no reason
for the implementation of the joint statement to take any longer than
that," he said.
Vershbow praised South Korea for responding firmly to Pyongyang's
October test of a nuclear device by withholding most aid to its
impoverished neighbor. Seoul and Washington have differed over the past
few years on how to deal with Pyongyang. The Bush administration is
uncomfortable with South Korea's engagement policy aimed at coaxing the
communist North into opening up more to the world.
The ambassador in his speech also said the relations between Seoul and
Washington, two long-time allies is strong and capable of adjusting to new
The U.S.-North Korea financial talks are expected to continue at least