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Minister: N Korean Money Not in Russian Bank Yet
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The designated Russian bank has not received the funds of North Koreatransferred from a Macao bank, thus hindering an expected step to open fresh nuclear talks, a Russian minister said on Monday.

The US Department of Treasury has guaranteed no sanctions against the bank involved in the money transfer, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin as saying.

The Dalkombank (Far East Commercial Bank), based in Russia's far eastern city of Khabarovsk, however, has not yet received the funds due to technical problems, he told reporters at an investors conference in Moscow.

The reports did not specify the technical problems.

North Korean ambassador to Russia, Kim Yong Che, however, said those funds have arrived at the Central Bank of Russia and will be transferred to North Korean foreign trade bank via a Russian bank in Khabarovsk, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

The ambassador reaffirmed the North Korea's readiness to fulfill all its commitments undertaken at the six-party talks, a multi-national negotiation on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The next round of the six-party talks, involving North Korea, the United States, China, Russia, South Korea and Japan, will start at the beginning of July, Itar-Tass said, citing an anonymous diplomatic source.

North Korea has insisted that its US$25 million frozen at the Macao-based Banco Delta Asia must be returned before it shuts down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor and starts new talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

The money was remitted last Thursday reportedly to the New York Federal Reserve and was expected to be delivered to the Russian bank.

Pyongyang, in response, has invited a delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency to discuss the shutdown of its Yongbyon nuclear facilities under an agreement reached at the six-party talks in February.

North Korean funds were frozen after the United States blacklisted the bank in September 2005 for allegedly helping Pyongyang launder money, an allegation denied by both the bank and Pyongyang.

(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2007)

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