David S. Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury, sat down for talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun at the ministry in central Seoul. Cohen was scheduled to also meet with Cho Tae-yong, Seoul's chief negotiator to the long-stalled six-party talks, later in the day.
During the latest visit following the previous trip here in March, the U.S. anti-terrorism sanctions expert is believed to discuss with the Seoul officials the implementation of United Nations- and U.S.-imposed sanctions on North Korea.
Cohen is also believed to discuss ways to close loopholes in some Southeast Asian nations in the sanctions implementation. North Korea reportedly still has access to some Southeast Asian ports, notably in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as routes of transporting prohibited weaponry.
A Seoul ministry official said the latest meeting is intended for "general discussion" on anti-Pyongyang sanctions between the two allies. "The (Seoul) government maintains the policy stance that it will use both talks and pressures in order to induce changes from the North," the official said.
The visit is to continue the U.S.' close cooperation with South Korea on the important security issue of addressing threats from Iran and North Korea, Cohen said late Monday after arriving in Seoul.
Cohen's Seoul visit is part of his Asia trip, which brought him to Japan first. He was scheduled to leave South Korea Tuesday evening for his visits to Singapore and Malaysia.
Just days after the U.N. Security Council in March adopted a unanimous resolution toughening sanctions on North Korea for its February nuclear test, the U.S. blacklisted North Korean banks and key officials as part of its own sanctions against the nuclear arms possessor.
In late March, Cohen flew to South Korea, Japan and China to rally cooperation for the sanctions implementation.
The March visit was followed by the Bank of China's announcement in May that it is shutting down dealings with North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank, the main foreign exchange channel for Pyongyang. The North Korean bank was blacklisted by the U.S. in March.
Also on Tuesday, Cohen was to meet Seoul's Deputy Finance Minister Eun Sung-soo in order to discuss Washington's sanctions on Iran for its nuclear programs.
The sanctions-tightening efforts by the countries come despite reviving hopes for the resumption of the long-stalled six-party talks, designed to persuade the North to discard its nuclear programs in return for external economic aids.
Washington and Seoul insist that the North should first show sincere commitments in order to restart the multilateral aid-for-disarmament talks also involving Japan, Russia and China.