The way toward shutting down nuclear facilities in North Korea has become clearer with the US agreement to unfreeze a North Korean bank account, top South Korean envoy Chun Yung-woo said yesterday evening.
The sixth round of six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue started in good atmosphere and all the delegations expressed their will for substantive results in this round of multilateral talks, said Chun.
According to Chun, North Korea has expressed its hope to have in-depth discussions and reach an agreement with other parties on the measures to be taken after the initial-steps phase.
The declaration and disablement of North Korea's nuclear facilities will be key topics in the future sessions of the talks, Chun added.
Chun said delegates to the talks hoped to fix a date for the meeting of foreign ministers of the six parties, but it depends on the progress of this round of talks.
South Korea's goal was to set a date and place for the foreign ministers' meeting, Chun said.
The US agreed yesterday to transfer North Korea's US$25-million funds frozen at Macao-based Banco Delta Asia (BDA) into the Bank of China in Beijing, paving the way for progress of the talks.
In September 2005, the US Treasury Department, suspecting the BDA of helping North Korea launder money, ordered American financial institutions to suspend business ties with the Macao-based bank, which subsequently froze the US dollar accounts held by North Korea.
Rejecting the charge, North Korea demanded the US lift the financial sanctions before it could return to the six-party talks, which remained stalled for 13 months since the end of 2005.
As part of the nuclear deal reached during last round talks in Beijing on February 13, the US agreed to settle the financial dispute with North Korea within 30 days.
(Xinhua News Agency March 20, 2007)