N.Korea insists bans be lifted before nuke talks

The United States must lift sanctions and renounce its "hostile policy" for talks aimed at North Korea's nuclear disarmament to resume, Pyongyang said Monday. The statement by an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman is the latest in a series from the tightly controlled country - and comes from the highest-ranking source - that suggests the nuclear negotiation process is unlikely to move forward anytime soon. Washington says the sanctions are separate from the nuclear negotiations. North Korea denies the US allegations of wrongdoing and says US emphasis on the nuclear issue and on human rights abuses in the North show that the United States wants to the North's regime overthrown. In September, Washington slapped sanctions on a Macau-based bank, alleging it helped the North distribute counterfeit currency and engage in other illicit activities. The next month, the US sanctioned eight North Korean companies it claimed were fronts for proliferating weapons of mass destruction.