U.S. Treasury Department delegation visits South Korea

A U.S. Treasury Department delegation arrived in South Korea Saturday for talks on alleged illegal North Korean financial activities that prompted U.S. sanctions against the communist country. The four-member delegation is scheduled to hold meetings with South Korean officials on Monday to explain the Treasury Department's decision to impose sanctions on the North, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement. Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crime, and other American officials refused to comment upon arriving in Seoul. In September, Washington slapped sanctions on a bank in the Chinese territory of Macau, alleging it helped the North distribute counterfeit currency and engage in other illicit activities. The next month, Washington sanctioned eight North Korean companies it claimed were fronts for proliferating weapons of mass destruction.

North Korea has denied the allegations and vowed to stay away from international talks on its nuclear programs until the U.S. lifts the sanctions. U.S. officials have rejected the demand, saying the matter is a criminal issue unrelated to the nuclear talks.

In Washington South Korea's Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said Friday his government has told North Korean authorities they should stop printing bogus U.S. currency and other illicit activities. Ban also said such deeds should not stand in the way of resuming stalemated negotiations to end North Korea's nuclear program.

"We have conveyed our concerns to North Korean authorities," he said in an interview for CNN's "Late Edition" to be broadcast Sunday. The Associated Press obtained an advance transcript.

In a recent summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il mentioned unspecified "difficulties" facing the talks and called for a joint effort with China "to overcome the difficulties in the six-way talks and to find a way to move forward." The nuclear talks include the U.S., the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia. The Treasury Department officials visited Hong Kong and Macau before arriving in Seoul. They are scheduled to leave South Korea on Tuesday, reports the AP. N.U.