Eyes on N Korea after cash transfer

South Korea says ball in Pyongyang's court to meet nuclear disarmament commitments.

    North Korea's leaders had demanded that the frozen $25m be released before it disarmed [Reuters]
    "From now on, we have to focus on the implementation of the February 13 agreement."
    North Korea had refused to implement the six-nation deal agreed in February until it received the funds.
    The money was frozen in a Macau bank account following allegations from the US in 2005 that the funds were linked to North Korean money-laundering and counterfeiting.
    Complex deal
    In a complex deal, the cash was reportedly to be transferred to the New York Federal Reserve, then to the Russian central bank and on to a North Korean account at a private Russian bank.
    Few banks had been willing to handle the disputed money for fear of handling what they see as tainted money and being blacklisted by the US.

    All eyes will be on North Korea to see how it
    responds to the funds transfer [Reuters]

    Pyongyang has yet to make any comment on the transfer and it was unclear as of Friday whether the process would be completed to the North's satisfaction.
    Francis Tam Pak Yuen, Macau's finance minister, said that more than $20m from "dozens of accounts" – some belonging to private companies doing business, others belonging to state agencies – had been remitted.
    But the Pyongyang-linked accounts at Banco Delta Asia reportedly had funds totalling $25m, and it was not immediately clear what would happen to the rest.
    The North, which sparked international outrage when it tested a nuclear bomb in October, agreed in February to disable its nuclear programme in return for fuel aid and other economic assistance.
    As a first step it was to have shut down its main reactor at Yongbyon by mid-April, but the deadline passed with no progress.
    Back to talks
    Christopher Hill, the chief US negotiator on the issue, is to travel shortly to China, South Korea and Japan to discuss steps to reconvene the six-nation talks, the US state department said.
    South Korea has said the talks would resume soon after the North implemented its disarmament pledge.
    But Taro Aso, Japan's foreign minister, expressed scepticism that the money transfer would immediately resolve the deadlock, Kyodo News agency reported.
    "Even though the fund transfer problem is resolved, North Korea could come up with more demands," Aso said.
    "There is no guarantee we can resume the six-party talks right away."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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