Negotiators hope to resume North Korea nuclear talks

Negotiations over North Korea's nuclear program could resume in late March if an impasse over financial sanctions against Pyongyang is resolved, a senior South Korean official said Tuesday.

There have been few indications when the six-nation talks could reopen amid a dispute over U.S. sanctions against North Korea's alleged currency counterfeiting and money laundering, with the communist state ruling out fresh talks unless the sanctions are lifted.

"Participating countries think that it's desirable (for the six-party talks) to be held around late March or early April," a South Korean official told local reporters on condition he not be identified because of the sensitivity of the talks, and an aide later confirmed the remarks.

"Currently, there are several contacts going on between the United States and North Korea and between China and North Korea and if a solution to the financial problem comes up through these (contacts), the next round of talks will be held," he said.

The official cautioned, however, that the U.S.-North Korea contacts were at a working-level where it's difficult to discuss substantial issues, but added that substantive discussions were possible in the Chinese-North Korea contacts.

The talks, involving China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the U.S., were last held in November.

On Monday, South Korea's new nuclear envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Chun Young-woo, said after his appointment that it's more important to make progress when the negotiations are held rather than just trying to convene them for the sake of having talks, reports the AP.

I.L.

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