US moves to unblock N Korean funds

Chief US negotiator remains optimistic about North's commitment to disarm.

    The $25m was supposed to have  been transferred from Banco Delta to a Chinese account [AFP]

    "It is our strong view that we are still on schedule"

    Christopher Hill,
    chief US negotiator

    Sean McCormack, a state department spokesman, said Daniel Glaser, the deputy assistant treasury secretary, would leave for the Chinese capital "relatively soon" to work "on the technical details" of returning the North's assets which were frozen in 2005.
     
    Envoys from China, the two Koreas, the US, Japan and Russia met this week to hammer out details of an accord signed on February 13 that set a timetable for North Korea to begin dismantling its weapons programme.
     
    Tony Snow, a White House spokesman, said the US had done its part to resolve the money transfer issue and hoped that technical problems will not slow down talks.
     
    On schedule
     
    Christopher Hill, the chief US negotiator, said on Friday that North Korea should not use the "procedural, form-filling issue" as an excuse to hold up talks.
     
    He was, however, optimistic that Pyongyang would keep to its side of the bargain to close its main nuclear facility by mid-April despite a breakdown in negotiations.
     
    "It is our strong view that we are still on schedule," Hill said, referring to the 60-day deadline to shut down the Yongbyon reactor after verification by UN inspectors.
     
    "I don't think there is a broader point here about whether they are committed to the nuclear deal. I think they are. Throughout the week, they reiterated that," he added.
     
    China said there would be a recess in nuclear talks but did not specify a date to restart the negotiations.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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