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(LEAD) Investigation underway into Latvian bank suspected of illegal dealing with N. Korea

All Headlines 18:23 February 14, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS meeting outcomes in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- Latvia is investigating a local bank suspected of illegal trading related to North Korea's weapons system, the Latvian top diplomat said Wednesday.

The investigation comes as the United States has reportedly imposed sanctions on the Latvian bank ABLV for its financial transactions with North Korean entities blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council.

The Latvian bank's financial transactions contributed to North Korea's illicit procuring for or exporting of its ballistic missile system, according to a report by Voice of America.

(LEAD) Investigation underway into Latvian bank suspected of illegal dealing with N. Korea - 1

Under the U.S. sanctions, the Latvian bank is prohibited from opening or keeping a bank account in the U.S. and barred from the American financial network.

"We are working to investigate this issue. (But) while the investigation is not over, I cannot go into specific details," Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics told Yonhap News Agency. "We are working with the U.S. government (on the issue)," he said.

He also affirmed his country's compliance with the U.N. sanctions on North Korea, saying "We support all the sanctions."

His comments followed his talks with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in Seoul, held to discuss issues of mutual interest.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry here said in a press release after the meeting that the Latvian minister expressed hope that the recently resumed inter-Korean talks will contribute to finding a "peaceful" resolution of the North's nuclear issue.

He also promised to actively participate in the global sanctions regime against the North, according to the ministry.


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