Negotiating problemsDaniel Glaser, a United States Treasury Department official, visited China yesterday. Mr. Glaser is a financial crimes expert who in Beijing last week announced the return of the full amount of money frozen in Banco Delta Asia to North Korea. He is again visiting the Chinese capital less than a week later, raising the question of whether the delays in returning North Korea’s money will be solved this time. The delays have left the six-party talks hanging in mid-air.
The reason Washington broke with previous U.S. policies and cleared the way for a full return of North Korean accounts is clear. It is because $25 million was blocking the principal goals of diplomacy: resolving North Korean nuclear problems and establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula. The Bush administration is sticking to the decision, although the resignation of key personnel hints at internal disagreement.
The importance of diplomatic goals aside, Washington seems to be in too much of a hurry. In the instance of BDA, the U.S. clarified that North Korea’s $25 million were illicit funds but attempted the political resolution of designating a third country to return the money.
But this was impossible from the beginning, since hardly any bank will step up to handle money branded illicit by Washington.
Washington should have employed its power to find a bank, if any exists, that would receive the dubious money.
Instead, it only paid lip service to making a full return. The U.S.’s clumsy work gives the impression that it hurried to produce a visible diplomatic achievement. Washington must listen to its specialists who say that the U.S., being in a hurry, handed the lead to North Korea.
It is said that a North Korean representative asked his U.S. counterpart for assistance clearing the frozen account.
To receive the help it wants, North Korea should discard its habit of leaving the table when it does not get what it wants. If Pyongyang is not ready to negotiate even the technical issues of returning its money, those who favor negotiations in Washington will have less ground to stand on.