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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 January 2007, 01:16 GMT
Cognac and iPod ban for N Korea
Kim Jong-Il and North Korean generals
Kim Jong-Il is said to enjoy luxuries and share them with the elite
The US has banned exports of iPods, fine wines and fast cars to North Korea as part of the punishment for the country's nuclear bomb test last year.

The sanctions are said to be targeted at North Korea's elite, who reportedly enjoy luxuries despite the country's desperate poverty.

Meanwhile the US set talks with North Korea on lifting financial penalties.

The moves come amid efforts to restart multilateral talks aimed at persuading North Korea to halt nuclear activities.

US envoy Christopher Hill said, after meeting his North Korean counterpart in Berlin, that he hoped the six-nation talks would resume by mid-February.

The talks ended inconclusively in December, having resumed after a break of more than a year.

The sanctions on luxury goods were "carefully considered and carefully targeted" to affect only the country's elite, said US commerce department spokesman Richard Mills.

Dissidents talk of a vain, paranoid, cognac-guzzling hypochondriac

"It does not prohibit exports of food and medicine and other humanitarian goods."

The banned list includes cognac - said to be the favourite tipple of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il - as well as jet skis, jewellery and designer clothes.

The United Nations banned the sale of luxury goods to North Korea in response to its nuclear test on 9 October, but left individual countries to define those items.

However, the US appeared to be moving towards compromise on another front, by announcing talks next week in Beijing on US financial restrictions, which the North has blamed for its reluctance to rejoin multi-party talks.

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