- U.S. optimistic for Chinese action on North Korea
- U.S. hopeful for strong action by China over North Korea - envoy
- Venezuelan police fire tear gas during clash ahead of vote
Posted: 21 Mar 2013 08:23 PM PDT
BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States is optimistic China will take action against North Korea by increasing scrutiny of financial transactions to Pyongyang that could contravene fresh U.N. sanctions, a senior U.S. envoy said on Friday.
Stopping illicit money flows are a key part of the sanctions imposed on North Korea in response to its February 12 nuclear test. China is Pyongyang's sole diplomatic and economic ally, although it negotiated the latest sanctions with Washington and has said it wanted them implemented.
"We asked the Chinese for enhanced scrutiny of financial institutions in North Korea. It's no secret that there is a fair amount of financial relationship between China and North Korea and Chinese financial institutions in North Korea," David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, told reporters in Beijing.
"We encourage the Chinese regulatory authorities to inform the Chinese banking sector about Security Council Resolution 2094 to the provisions that call for preventing financial services to North Korea if they could contribute to nuclear/ballistic missile programmes or North Korea's conventional arms sales," he added.
"We are hopeful that Chinese banks and Chinese regulators will take heed of the Security Council resolution. I have every confidence that they will."
Beijing has become increasingly frustrated with North Korea's actions, Chinese experts have said. Besides the February 12 nuclear test, North Korea tested a long-range missile in December and has stepped up its rhetoric against the United States and South Korea.
Dan Fried, the U.S. State Department's new coordinator of sanctions policy, also said Washington hoped ultimately to reach a diplomatic solution with North Korea.
Chinese regulators appear to have issued a warning shot to North Korean banks, telling them to stay within the remit of their permitted operations in China or risk penalties.
A report from South Korea's Yonhap news agency on Tuesday cited a Beijing-based source as saying the warning had been given to four North Korean financial institutions, some of whom have been named in United Nations and United States sanctions for aiding Pyongyang in its nuclear and missile programmes.
The report said the banks may have been able to save on fees and get access to preferred exchange rates through their short-term lending and remittance operations.
Clamping down on such practices would not amount to anything close to what the new U.N. sanctions call for.
The March 7 sanctions tighten financial curbs on North Korea and also order mandatory checks of suspicious cargo.
Yonhap said Tanchon Commercial Bank, Korea Kwangson Banking Corp (KKBC), Korea Daesong Bank and Golden Triangle Bank had received notices from the banking regulator ordering them to conduct business according to their permits.
Beijing has joined every round of U.N. sanctions against North Korea although questions remain over how closely it imposes restraints on its neighbour.
(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones; Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Writing by Ben Blanchard. Editing by Dean Yates)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 21 Mar 2013 07:33 PM PDT
BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States is optimistic that China will take strong action against North Korea and has urged Beijing to increase scrutiny of financial institutions with links to Pyongyang, U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said on Friday.
Cohen said that the United States believes that China is looking at the threat by North Korea in a new and different way.
Dan Fried, the U.S. State Department's new coordinator of sanctions policy, also said Washington hopes ultimately to reach a diplomatic solution with North Korea.
(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones, Writing by Sui-Lee Wee; editing by Jonathan Standing)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 21 Mar 2013 05:46 PM PDT
CARACAS (Reuters) - Police fired tear gas in downtown Caracas on Thursday as anti-government student protesters clashed with supporters of late President Hugo Chavez in an increasingly volatile atmosphere ahead of next month's election.
Several hundred students were marching to the election board's headquarters to demand a clean vote when they were blocked by government supporters who hurled stones, bottles and eggs at them, a Reuters witness said.
Some of the students threw stones back, other witnesses said.
"We were holding a peaceful march. ... All we want is democracy," said law student Eduardo Vargas, 19, whose eye was injured in the incident. "We're all Venezuelans. We just want a fair vote."
Police fired tear gas towards the 150 or so government supporters and formed a cordon between the two sides.
It was the first outbreak of violence since an election was called on April 14 for the South American OPEC nation following Chavez's death from cancer two weeks ago.
Both candidates, acting President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Henrique Capriles, have been trading personal accusations as they rally supporters for the vote.
One onlooker, Gustavo Malave, a 78-year-old who works for one of the socialist "community councils" set up during Chavez's 14-year rule, blamed the students for starting the trouble.
"The clash began because the opposition started throwing stones," he said. "I support Chavez and Maduro. Chavez set this course, and it's going to continue for 40 or 50 years."
Before the clash, the students had been marching to the election headquarters singing the national anthem and carrying signs including "Free and fair elections" and "Nicolas is a liar."
"The students are saying to the world and to the country that we are in the street. We want transparent and free elections," said one student leader, Victor Fernandez.
Maduro at an evening campaign rally called the students "a small group of recalcitrant right-wing people."
"None of us can ... be provoked by those tiny groups that make a living off hatred," he said.
He said the group had links to two U.S. diplomats expelled on the day of Chavez's death on charges they were attempting to conspire with the Venezuelan military.
"I want you to know that those two men directly gave orders and instructions and money to this same group," he said.
That charge follows a flurry of recent accusations against U.S. authorities including a charge that the State Department is seeking to kill Capriles to spark a coup.
Washington denies the accusation.
With sympathy over Chavez's death galvanizing government supporters, Maduro, 50, a longtime socialist stalwart, is favourite to win next month's vote.
Two polls published this week put the former bus driver ahead of Capriles by more than 14 percentage points.
Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor, accuses Maduro of being a nonentity who is exploiting the emotion around Chavez's death. He wants voters to focus on daily problems confronting Venezuelans ranging from potholes to high crime rates and corruption.
Capriles, a centrist politician who says Brazil's free-market economics with strong welfare policies is his model for Venezuela, lost to Chavez last year by 11 percentage points.
(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
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