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Seoul to open bank branches in N.K. only after sanctions are lifted

2018/10/26 17:14

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SEOUL, Oct. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will open bank branches in North Korea only after international sanctions are lifted in return for irreversible steps by the North to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, the top financial regulator here said Friday.

Choi Jong-ku, chairman of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), told a parliamentary audit meeting that Seoul has not discussed cooperation with North Korea in the financial sector.

"Opening bank branches in North Korea will be possible only after conditions are met," Choi said.

FSC Chairman Choi Jong-ku. (Yonhap) FSC Chairman Choi Jong-ku. (Yonhap)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to work to end the North's nuclear weapons program at a landmark summit in June, but there has been little progress on the details of how to meet that goal.

The U.S. has called on its allies to maintain sanctions on North Korea until the North takes concrete and irreversible steps towards denuclearization.

Financial sources have said the U.S. Treasury Department called on South Korean banks to comply with sanctions on North Korea, in a thinly veiled warning against doing business with Pyongyang before it takes irreversible steps toward denuclearization.

The Treasury Department emailed several commercial and policy banks and conducted conference calls on Sept. 20 and 21, according to the sources.

The state-run Korea Development Bank and the Industrial Bank of Korea received calls from the Treasury Department, along with Kookmin Bank, Shinhan Bank and Nonghyup Bank.

kdh@yna.co.kr

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