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6th Round of 6-Party Talks Opens
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The six parties, namely China, the US, Russia, Japan, North and South Korea, started their sixth round of negotiation over the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue in Beijing Monday morning after North Korea and the US reached an understanding on a frozen fund issue.


The US agreed to transfer the North Korea-related frozen fund at Macao-based Banco Delta Asia (BDA) to a Chinese bank in Beijing, said US Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser Monday morning before the nuclear talks started.


"We have assurances the funds are going to be transferred to a bank in Beijing to be used for humanitarian and educational purposes," said Glaser in a statement.


North Korea has proposed the transfer of the roughly US$25 million into an account held by its Foreign Trade Bank at the Bank of China in Beijing, the statement said.


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.


North Korea has pledged, within the framework of the six-party talks, that these funds will be used solely for the well-being of its people, including for the humanitarian and educational purposes, according to the statement.


"We believe this resolves the issue of the North Korea-related frozen funds," Glaser said.


China's chief negotiator Wu Dawei said at the opening ceremony of the nuclear talks that based on the agreements the concerned parties have reached, this meeting will focus on three issues.


"The first is to listen to the reports of all working groups; the second is to discuss the specific steps for the implementation of the initial actions; the third is to carry out preliminary discussion about the steps or actions that all parties are prepared to take or should take in the next phase," Wu said.


However, Wu said there are still a lot of difficulties and obstacles on the way ahead.


As the chair of the meeting, Wu said he sincerely hopes that "all sides will continue to take part in all the meetings with a flexible, pragmatic and constructive approach and make positive contribution to the progress of the completion of all agenda items of this meeting."


"The Chinese delegation will work closely with all other delegations to work for new progress and achievements of this meeting," he added.


At the plenary meeting after the opening ceremony, North Korean chief negotiator Kim Kye-gwan expressed his hope that the six parties should enhance mutual trust and fulfill respective obligations in the principles of "commitment-for-commitment and action-for-action."


Kim said that North Korea is prepared to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear facilities and accept supervision and verification from the IAEA if the other parties fulfill their commitments as scheduled.


Chief US negotiator Christopher Hill said since the US and North Korea have reached an understanding on the frozen fund issue, the parties now should concentrate on how to implement the initial steps and fix on roadmap on next-step actions.


Hill said the parties should maintain the sound momentum and continue to push forward the talks.


(Xinhua News Agency March 19, 2007)

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