Bank of China (BOC) has concerns about accepting the transfer of
frozen funds from the accounts of North Korea now being held at a
Macao-based bank, according to top Chinese nuclear envoy Wu
The latest round of the six-party talks on denuclearizing Korean
Peninsula has recessed, Wu announced yesterday, after four days of
talks in which Pyongyang's top negotiator Kim Kye-gwan boycotted
North Korea insisted that receiving the US$25 million frozen at
Banco Delta Asia (BDA) was a prerequisite for returning to the
Wu said all the parties are seeking a solution to the issue and
the key is who should be responsible for handling the funds
transferred from BDA.
"China has a socialist market economy system and we need to
consult with BOC on whether or not it can fulfill this
responsibility," Wu told a news conference yesterday. "This is a
matter that cannot be decided by the government."
He said he appreciated BOC's earnest consideration in resolving
the issue, saying it was the only financial institution that has
been seriously exchanging views with all the relevant parties.
Describing BOC as "very courageous," Wu said not all their
concerns have been assuaged.
He noted that the banking issue would not be an obstacle to the
nuclear talks, saying all the parties believe that they are
confident and capable of resolving the problem in a way acceptable
Meanwhile, BOC Chairman Xiao Gang said his bank has not been
required by the government to accept the transfer.
"As a listed company, BOC will strictly comply with laws,
regulations and international conventions on anti-money laundering
and anti-terrorism," Xiao said at a press conference in Hong Kong
The US and North Korea reached a deal on Monday to settle the
financial dispute by transferring Pyongyang's frozen accounts from
BDA to BOC in Beijing with the money promised to be used for the
betterment of its people.
The optimism faded as Pyongyang refused to take part in the
nuclear talks the next day until the money was returned.
The money was frozen in late 2005 after the US declared the
financial institution a primary money laundering concern.
Washington last week prohibited US financial institutions from
dealing with BDA and barred the bank from accessing the US
financial system either directly or indirectly.
China, the host of the talks, issued a Chairman's Statement
yesterday, saying "the parties agreed to recess and will resume the
talks at the earliest opportunity to continue to discuss and
formulate an action plan for the next stage."
Wu did not give a date for resumption of the six-party talks,
which also involve the US, Russia, Japan, North and South
"We attempted to solve the banking issue within five days," he
Wu said there are difficulties and twists ahead and the six
parties are working hard to look for convergence of their
He said that the first session of the sixth round of the talks,
which opened on Monday, was successful as the parties listened to
reports by the five working groups, and held discussions on
implementing the initial actions and an action plan for the next
He said the talks came to a standstill because of technical and
procedural factors as well as unexpected issues.
Meanwhile, Chun Yung-woo, chief negotiator of South Korea, told
reporters yesterday that the six parties settled the framework of a
solution to the funds issue during the discussion, but resolving
the technical problems would still take time.
Chief US delegate Christopher Hill was cautiously optimistic
about the prospect, saying the talks process was still on track.
However, he wanted to see "much more in-depth discussion in the
He said he hoped the declaration and disablement of North
Korea's nuclear facilities could be done by the end of 2007 and
there could be a precise timing on the disablement of the
(China Daily March 23, 2007)