North Korea boycotts talks on nuclear program

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

According to Japan's chief envoy, Kenichiro Sasae, North Korea will not take part in 6-party talks regarding their nuclear program until the United States releases US$25 million of North Korean funds frozen by the U.S. government in a Macau bank.

A meeting, scheduled to take place today between the 6 nations involved in the talks, was cancelled as North Korea did not receive the money.

"There was no progress at all today. China as chairman (of the talks) urged North Korea to come to the table but they would not come. According to China, North Korea said they will not come to join further discussions until they confirm that their money got into their bank account in China," said Sasae.

According to the US, however, the issue of frozen funds from the Macau lender Banco Delta was "resolved." The money can be "used solely for the betterment of the North Korean people," said Daniel Glaser, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Treasury.

"[The funds will be released] in accordance with the instructions of the account holders," said a statement by The Monetary Authority of Macau.

The nations participating in the talks to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program are the United States, Japan, Russia, South Korea and host, China, as well as North Korea itself.

North Korea agreed on February 13 to dismantle their nuclear program by April 14, 2007.