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The current round of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program has been suspended until technical issues involved with the unfreezing of North Korea's bank accounts are resolved
The current round of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program has been suspended until technical issues involved with the unfreezing of North Korea's bank accounts are resolved, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov said Thursday. "It would be logical to halt the talks, inasmuch as it would be difficult to resolve the problem of North Korea's accounts in a day or two," Losyukov said. He added that the agreements reached during the previous round of talks remain unimplemented, and the results of those discussions are now in doubt. In 2005, the U.S. demanded that $25 million in 50 North Korean accounts be frozen on the grounds that North Korea was involved in money laundering and counterfeiting. However, the U.S. could not prove the allegations and agreed to unfreeze the sum. During negotiations in Beijing, which were resumed March 19, North Korea refused to discuss its nuclear disarmament until the Macao funds were returned. It has been problematic to collect applications for money transfers from the Macao bank, frozen by the U.S., from all depositors, one of whom has died, the South Korean press said. Asked about when the negotiations could be resumed, Losyukov said: "I don't think it necessary to collect whole delegations, and instead we had better entrust the issue to the working group on denuclearization, which would fix timelines, coordinate details and make a report at a general meeting of delegations to avoid pointless discussions and the loss of time and prestige of the negotiations." Losyukov also warned Russian banks against transferring money from the unfrozen North Korean accounts in Macao. "Although we have not received any relevant application, I would not recommend any Russian bank or organization to handle such transactions," Losyukov said in Pyongyang Thursday. The Russian diplomat said it would be possible to settle the issue with North Korean money transfers from Macao if the U.S. guaranteed that no sanctions or restrictions would be imposed on a bank in any country for mediation. "The U.S. Administration should submit applications or written warrants that transactions with North Korean assets will not have consequences for anyone," Losyukov said Progress at the talks, which have been ongoing since August 2003 and have involved Russia, South and North Korea, the United States, China, and Japan, has been stalled mostly over Pyongyang's disagreements with Washington and Tokyo. In October 2006, North Korea conducted a nuclear test and proclaimed itself a "nuclear power." However, Pyongyang pledged to refrain from nuclear programs as soon as the U.S. threat is removed.
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