Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
As usual, its all about money, said Tokyos Asahi Shimbun in an editorial. When North Koreas pathologically reclusive leader, Kim Jong Il, ventured across his countrys border into China last week, everyone was buzzing about his mission. According to Chinese President Hu Jintao, Kim said he was willing to return to six-nation talks about his countrys nuclear programs. But theres still a sticking point. The U.S. has imposed virtual sanctions on the bank in Macao where Kim keeps his foreign currency. Macao, a former Portuguese colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1999, is a center for Asias gambling and casino industries. The U.S. government believes North Korea has been using the Macao account to launder funds it earned through the forgery of U.S. dollar bills and narcotics smuggling. North Korea says the charges are false and that it wont return to the bargaining table until the U.S. eases up pressure on the bank. The two issues, though, are completely unrelated. North Korea would be better advised to return to the international community as a player in the global economy. There it could receive much larger economic benefits than it does in Macao.