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Six-Party Talks Extended After Fund Transfer Glitch
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The six-party talks' original three-day schedule came and went with no agreement but proceedings were given a ray of hope by a decision to extend them for another day.

The spokesman for the Chinese delegation, Qin Gang, announced that all parties involved are working to resolve the issue of Pyongyang's money frozen in a Macao bank - a major sticking point so far.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has reiterated that no further negotiations will take place until the money is received, chief Russian negotiator Alexander Losyukov said Wednesday.

The United States on Monday had wholly agreed to transfer the DPRK's US$25 million frozen at Banco Delta Asia (BDA) to a DPRK account at Bank of China (BOC) in Beijing. However, Losyukov revealed that BOC had refused to accept the transfer due to technical problems, a fact later confirmed by Qin.

The Macau Monetary Authority had announced two days ago the management of Pyongyang's accounts in BDA "according to the instructions of the account holders". However, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported delays to the transfer had come from the Macao authority being unable to confirm the ownership of around 50 DPRK accounts.

Chief US negotiator Christopher Hill earlier lamented the current sluggish pace of the talks but remained outwardly confident that the BDA issue would soon be resolved.

Hill stated that the US and DPRK delegations had held a bilateral meeting on the bank account and denuclearization issues yesterday.

The scheduled three-day session that started on Monday had intended to focus on implementing a landmark February 13 deal, which would see the DPRK close down its nuclear facilities within 60 days in exchange for receiving economic aid and security assurances.

However talks stalled on Tuesday with the DPRK announcing a boycott on multi-lateral discussions until the frozen funds were transferred to BOC.

Hill said this had been upsetting but added he was confident that the DPRK was still committed to the February agreement.

"We've got more than three weeks to go until the February 13 deadline, so I do believe that we can get there with all the commitments in the 60 days."

(China Daily March 22, 2007)

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