North Korea has refused to close the Yongbyon nuclear reactor and refused to return to six-party nuclear talks until it received the frozen money.
 
A US treasury department spokeswoman was more circumspect about the arrangements for a transfer, saying that North Korea needed to ensure the funds would be used for humanitarian purposes.
 
The Monetary Authority of Macau, a Chinese territory, froze the funds in 2005 after Washington accused the BDA of handling illicit North Korean funds linked to money laundering, drug trafficking and counterfeit currency.
 
Deadline
 
McCormack also said Christopher Hill, the chief US nuclear envoy, would travel to Northeast Asian capitals beginning this weekend.
 
The move is an indication that the six-party talks among the US, China, the two Koreas, Russia and Japan would be reconvened soon.
 
The dispute over the transfer has held up implementation of a February 13 agreement by the six parties, which gave North Korea 60 days to shut its nuclear facilities in return for energy aid.
 
A South Korean official was quoted as saying in the JoongAng Ilbo daily newspaper that the money would be released through a Hong Kong bank next week.
 
McCormack refused to either confirm or deny this report.
 
South Korean foreign ministry officials, speaking to the Reuters news agency, cast doubt on the newspaper report and one called it "unfounded."