US hopeful on N Korea disarmament

Envoy confident Pyongyang will stick to disarmament pledge despite long delays.

    Hill said he was optimistic North Korea would still begin shutting down its reactor this month [EPA]

    Speaking in Manila, Hill took a softer stance than earlier in the week when he said that North Korea should not wait for the money to arrive before shutting down its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.
     
    "I am expecting it very soon," he said. "Hopefully we can get that done this month."
     
    'Alliance of war'
     
    Hill, who is in the Philippine capital for meetings ahead of a regional security summit in August, said he had no plans to hold talks with any North Korean officials there.
     
    In closed-door meetings with other diplomats attending the Manila talks, officials from North Korea have defended their efforts to build a nuclear arsenal, labelling the US, South Korea and Japan an "alliance of war".
     
    The US and others have demanded that North Korea live up to promises it made at talks in Beijing in February with South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US.
     
    Under the deal Pyongyang agreed to shut down its main nuclear reactor but it has said that cannot happen until it is able to access the $25m frozen at Macau's Banco Delta Asia.
     
    The North had originally been set a deadline of April 17 to begin dismantling its nuclear arsenal.
     
    The exact reasons for the delay in transferring the funds are unclear.
     
    Some reports have said banks have been unwilling to handle the cash because of the controversy surrounding it.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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