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Six-Party Talks: Recess Only Temporary
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Wu Dawei, senior Chinese envoy to the six-party talks, said on Thursday that the recess decided upon is only temporary in nature and that the talks would restart soon.

Wu was commenting at a press briefing shortly after a meeting between all chief delegates had ended.

The Chairman's Statement read by Wu stated that the five working groups had all reported in, and that the six parties had then discussed the implementation of the first steps and began laying out an action plan for a further phase.

The parties all vowed to strive for further progress and the talks, and reiterated their full commitment to both the Sept. 19 joint statement and the Feb. 13 joint document, the statement revealed.

Should the Feb. 13 deal be implemented, it would see the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) close down all its nuclear facilities in exchange for emergency energy assistance coming from the other parties, with shipment set to begin within 60 days.

The statement said the talks would resume at the earliest opportunity in order to continue the formulation of an action plan for the next phase.

As for the frozen funds issue, which derailed the current round of talks, Wu admitted the transfer of the DPRK funds had been an unexpected problem, with all sides working to solve it.

The problem revolves around who will handle the funds, he said, adding that the Chinese government would meet with the Bank of China (BOC) to alleviate the bank's concerns and ensure they accept the transfer. .

The United States on March 19 agreed to transfer DPRK's 25 million U.S. dollars frozen at Macao-based Banco Delta Asia (BDA) to a DPRK account at the BOC in Beijing.

Chun-Yung Woo, chief negotiator of the Republic of Korea (ROK), told the press that the funds would not negatively affect the implementation of the two joint documents since they represent a technical issue which is wholly outside the the scope of a political issue.

The six parties settled on a framework to resolve the funds issue during their discussion, but technical problems may take time to sort out, he said.

During the 50-minute chief delegates' meeting held on Thursday afternoon, a note of optimism was struck when the DPRK maintained it would implement the Feb. 13 deal were the funds issue to be solved, Chun revealed.

For his part, US chief delegate Christopher Hill remained cautiously optimistic, saying the talks process was still on track. However, he did state his wish to see "much more in-depth discussion in the next phase".

He expressed hope that the full declaration and disablement of DPRK's nuclear facilities could be completed by year-end and that a precise timing on disablement could be worked out.

"Even with the delay of the technical banking issue, it is our strong view that there is still time to meet all the 60-day requirements," Hill said, adding that all sides would be able to arrange a schedule for the next round of talks. Hill will depart from Beijing on Friday.

(Xinhua News Agency March 23, 2007)

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