Talks to make the Korean Peninsula
nuclear-free were last night extended for at least another day after the
original three-day schedule expired without any agreement.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and chief negotiator
Christopher Hill smiles before meeting journalists at a hotel in Beijing
March 21, 2007. Talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear threat
languished on Wednesday, as Pyongyang waited to receive freed funds and
delegates warned time was running out to press forward a disarmament plan.
The spokesman for the Chinese delegation, Qin Gang, said all the parties were
making efforts to make sure the issue of Pyongyang's money frozen in a Macao
bank - a major sticking point at the six-nation talks - can be resolved.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) insists that resolving the
frozen-funds issue is a prerequisite for starting other negotiations, Alexander
Losyukov, chief Russian negotiator, said yesterday.
The United States on Monday agreed to transfer the DPRK's $25 million frozen
at Banco Delta Asia (BDA) to a DPRK account at Bank of China (BOC) in Beijing.
But BOC refused to accept the transfer of the funds, Xinhua News Agency
quoted Losyukov as saying.
Qin said the delay is due to technical problems.
The Macau Monetary Authority said in a statement released two days ago that
it would process Pyongyang's accounts in BDA "according to the instructions of
the account holders".
The Republic of Korea's Yonhap news agency said the money transfer was being
delayed because Macao authorities were having difficulty confirming the
ownership of about 50 DPRK accounts
Chief US negotiator Christopher Hill said earlier that the current pace of
the talks was slow but was confident that the BDA issue would be resolved.
The US and the DPRK delegations had a bilateral meeting on the bank account
and denuclearization issues yesterday, according to Hill.
"We talked a little about the bank account issues and agreed they are
technical matters," Hill said.
The scheduled three-day session that began on Monday was meant to focus on
implementing a landmark February 13 deal, which called on the DPRK to shut down
its nuclear facility within 60 days in return for economic aid and security
However talks stalled from Tuesday with the DPRK refusing to take further
part in multi-lateral discussions until its frozen funds are transferred to BOC.
Hill said it was upsetting that no talks had taken place while the transfer
issue was being resolved but added he was confident that the DPRK was still
committed to the February agreement.
"We've got more than three weeks to go (for the deadline to shut down the
nuclear reactor), so I do believe that we can get there with all the commitments
in the 60 days."
(China Daily 03/22/2007 page1)