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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. closely cooperating on implementing N.K. sanctions: U.S. secretary

All News 20:48 June 03, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more comments, background in paras 9, 11-14)

SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- Seoul and Washington are in close policy coordination to implement the latest strong financial sanctions against North Korea's nuclear programs, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew said Friday.

He said the two allies will strengthen cooperation in revealing Pyongyang's means and channels to access the global financial system and secure money for the sake of its nuclear weapons development.

Lew has been on a three-day visit to South Korea to have a ministerial meeting with his South Korean counterpart Yoo Il-ho. It is the first time the U.S. secretary came to Seoul since his inauguration in 2013.

Earlier this week, the U.S. designated North Korea as a "primary money laundering concern," a powerful sanction designed to punish the communist nation that conducted a series of nuclear and missile tests earlier this year.

"We've agreed that there is no different view on North Korea issues (between Seoul and Washington)," South Korean Finance Minister Yoo told reporters.

It is the first time that the U.S. has taken such a move, which is expected to further isolate the North from the international financial system.

Lew noted that his country and the United Nations have imposed the strongest-ever sanctions against the reclusive country, which has taken brinkmanship tactics in nuclear issues.

He called for a concerted effort by the world community, including China, the North's closest ally, to press the North to surrender its decades-long nuclear ambitions.

"We've also made clear there is a need for even greater pressure and additional action to be taken," said Lew.

North Korea has insisted that it has successfully developed submarine-launched ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles amid a recent series of test launches.

At the meeting, the two economic policymakers also discussed foreign currency issues after the U.S. put South Korea on its "monitoring list" for foreign exchange policies in April.

A U.S. government report suspected that the Seoul government has intervened in the market to resist the depreciation of the won in 2015 and 2016, citing the country's significant bilateral trade surplus with the U.S. and a material current account surplus.

Lew said there has been less one-sided intervention in the South Korean currency market in recent months, but called on the authorities to come up with a "durable policy."

"I explained my principle that the exchange rate is decided by the market," said Yoo. "South Korea will keep its course in the future."


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