N Korea: Before we disram, US must lift sanctions

North Korea's main nuclear envoy said Friday the United States must lift financial restrictions against the regime before it moves to disarm. "We have requested the US to release the sanctions first and then go into a discussion on substantive issues for the implementation" of a September 2005 agreement where the North pledged to disarm, Kim Kye Gwan told reporters after the end of five days of talks. "How can (North Korea) go into such an important discussion on halting the nuclear facilities and also giving up the deterrent which is aimed at safeguarding our sovereignty under such pressure from the United States?" Kim asked. The North ended a 13-month boycott of the talks after the US agreed to discuss its campaign to isolate the communist nation from the international financial system for alleged financial crimes, including counterfeiting and money laundering. Separate talks this week on that issue in Beijing failed to reach any breakthrough. The nuclear talks ended Friday without any progress on steps for the North's disarmament, and no new meeting was scheduled.