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Six-party Talks: N. Korean Funds Issue Still Unresolved
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The six-party talks on the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue seemed stuck in the mud on Tuesday as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) continued to refuse to attend the talks until it fully receives the funds currently frozen at a Macao bank.

A meeting for the heads of all the delegations set for Tuesday afternoon was cancelled due to the boycott, said Russian representative Alexander Losyukov Tuesday evening after returning to his hotel.

"The DPRK said its frozen funds at Banco Delta Asia (BDA) have still not been transferred into the Bank of China in Beijing," Losyukov said.

This inopportune stalemate came only a day after the U.S. Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser announced that the US and the DPRK had resolved the issue of frozen funds, adding that the US$25 million frozen funds would be transferred to a DPRK account at the Bank of China.

Speaking at a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that the ongoing six-party talks had started well on Monday, now harboring positive conditions for further progress.

The current six-party talks, regrouping China, the DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan and Russia, seek to discuss specific steps for the initial phase of the Feb. 13 deal, which if implemented would see the DPRK close its Yongbyon nuclear facility and receive energy aid from the international community.
Chief negotiators of the DPRK and the United States met face-to-face on Tuesday with senior US envoy Christopher Hill announcing that his talks with DPRK counterpart Kim Kye-Gwan had lasted about an hour and set out "a list of issues".

An anonymous ROK source revealed on Tuesday evening that Kim and Hill spoke on the need of solving the DPRK-related frozen fund obstacle and agreed it could be sorted out as early as Wednesday morning.

ROK's senior diplomat Lim Sung Nam further had cause for optimism Tuesday night, saying that despite the issue's complexity, the frozen funds problem could soon be satisfactorily brought to a close. 

"In conclusion, there was no progress today (Tuesday)," lamented top Japanese negotiator Kenichiro Sasae on Tuesday afternoon while Hill looked forward to a plenary meeting on Wednesday, hoping it would focus on "the meaning of the disablement, how to disable and what to disable."

(Xinhua News Agency March 21, 2007)

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