The United States has told North Korea it can access funds that
had been frozen at a Macao bank and urged Pyongyang to start
shutting down its nuclear reactor and invite back international
"We had over the weekend sent a message to North Korea to
confirm that ... the accounts are open and therefore there is
really nothing more we can be doing," US Assistant Secretary of
State Chris Hill told reporters in Beijing on Sunday.
"It's their turn now, the ball is in their court."
Under the February 13 agreement by North Korea, South Korea, the
United States, Japan, China and Russia, Pyongyang had 60 days to
shut its nuclear facilities in return for energy aid.
But Pyongyang apparently missed the deadline on Saturday. It has
insisted that it must first have access to millions of dollars in
accounts at Macao's Banco Delta Asia that were frozen after the
United States accused the bank of being involved in money
"Needless to say, we are not happy that North Korea essentially
has missed this very important deadline," Hill said.
Hill reiterated that Washington was willing to wait a few
"The Chinese hosts asked us to be patient and hold on a few
days, and we're quite prepared to do that. But clearly we have to
be in close contact and see what our next steps are," Hill
North Korea had said on Friday it would soon check whether it
could access about US$25 million in the Banco Delta Asia
It was not clear whether Pyongyang had already sought access to
In Pyongyang, the official media made no mention of the
deadline, dwelling on a huge ceremony marking the birthday of the
late Kim Il-sung, founder of North Korea and father of the current
leader, Kim Jong-il.
Earlier Sunday Hill said he had been talking with his
counterparts in the six-party nuclear negotiations, including Japan
and South Korea, and they had also agreed to give North Korea a few
"We're not planning to issue any more deadlines, but I think the
idea is to give this a few more days and see how it goes."
Pyongyang, which conducted is first nuclear test last October,
has said it remains committed to implementing the February 13
Hill has said he expected negotiators for the six countries
would likely meet again before the end of the month to discuss the
next phases in disarming North Korea.
(China Daily via agencies April 16, 2007)