Russia Confirms North Korea Fund Transfer to Russian Bank

Previously-frozen North Korean funds from a Macao bank has been transferred to a Russian bank and Moscow hopes it will help to settle the North Korean nuclear issue, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

"The transfer of the North Korean money from Macao to a Russian commercial bank has been completed," Mikhail Kamynin said. "We hope that the participants of the six-party nuclear talks will now take practical steps to implement Beijing agreements from February 13, 2007."

Earlier a source in the Russian Finance Ministry said the money was transferred to Dalkombank in the Khabarovsk Territory in Russia's Far East.

North Korea's $25 million at a Macao bank had until now been the main stumbling block at six-party nuclear talks, at which delegations from the United States, China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea have been trying to persuade the North to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

The latest round of talks in March stalled over the funds. North Korea said it would close down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor once the transfer of its money had been completed. The funds were frozen in Banco Delta Asia at the request of the United States on accusations of money laundering and counterfeiting.

The Russian Far Eastern bank agreed at the weekend to handle the funds' transfer, and the North Korean government then invited monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the reactor's facilities. Pyongyang has not allowed the UN nuclear watchdog into the country since 2002.

Participants in the talks have agreed that the new round should start only after IAEA experts present a report on their visit to the reclusive Communist state.

Source: AFP

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