| Dim Prospects for Six-Party Deal

As Six-Party Talks resumed in Beijing on December 18, North Korea maintained its defiance (Korea Times), going so far as to demand mutual disarmament talks with the United States. But Pyongyang's real objective, which its delegates have made a precondition for any other negotiations, is the lifting of U.S. financial sanctions (Asia Times). On Tuesday, finance officials from both countries met on the sidelines to discuss the U.S. restrictions (BBC), including those imposed on a Macao-based bank linked to North Korean money laundering. Ahead of the meeting, Christopher Hill, the State Department’s point man on North Korea, said he hoped for “significant progress” in the first round, though experts say that is unlikely. 

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