U.S. Treasury official discusses sanctions on N. Korea, Russia

By Kim Yon-se
  • Published : Aug 21, 2014 - 20:41
  • Updated : Aug 21, 2014 - 20:41
A senior U.S. Treasury official on sanction affairs has met with the South Korean government in a bid to discuss an array of sanctions imposed on North Korea, Russia and Iran, government sources said Thursday.

David Cohen, U.S. undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, arrived in Seoul on Wednesday for a two-day visit as part of his tour to Asia and the Middle East.

Earlier in the day, he met with Hwang Joon-kook, Seoul’s top nuclear envoy, and Lee Kyung-soo, deputy minister for political affairs, at South Korea’s Foreign Ministry.

“I’ve come to Korea to continue the close collaboration and consultations between the U.S. government and Korea on a range of issues where we share commitment,” Cohen told a group of reporters.

“We’ve discussed issues regarding the DPRK as well as our joint efforts with respect to Iran.”

The DPRK is the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.

He called his discussion “a very good meeting,” adding that he looks forward to continuing this conversation with the Korean government in the future.

Cohen is in charge of Washington’s sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear and long-range missile tests.

His visit comes as the U.S. imposed sanctions on two North Korean shipping firms in late July after a cargo ship from the North was seized by Panama last year for carrying Soviet-era arms in violation of a United Nations arms embargo on Pyongyang.

The U.S. Treasury Department said that Chongchongang Shipping Co. was the operator of the once-seized Chong Chon Gang freighter and Ocean Maritime Management Co. played a key role in having the ship’s crew lie about the cargo and in providing false documents to Panamanian authorities.

Cohen was also seen as having asked Seoul to join Washington-led efforts to impose tougher sanctions on Russia because of Moscow’s recent meddling in Ukraine and its suspected involvement in the downing of a Malaysian plane, according to the government sources.

Peter Harrell, deputy assistant secretary for counter threat finance and sanctions at the State Department, visited Seoul in July to seek cooperation from South Korea over its move to slap sanctions on Russia.

In mid-July, the U.S. slapped penalties on Russia’s oil and gas producers as well as its main banks following the Ukraine crisis, which could squeeze their dollar funding over the long term.

Cohen also explained the recent developments in talks on Iran’s nuclear program and sanctions imposed on Teheran, they added.

Cohen will depart later in the day for China, the next leg of his trip. (Yonhap)