Disarmament talks with North Korea to continue - negotiators-1

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The current round of the six-nation disarmament talks with North Korea will continue for another day or two, Russia's negotiator said Wednesday.
(Recasts, adds paragraphs 9-14)

BEIJING, March 21 (RIA Novosti) - The current round of the six-nation disarmament talks with North Korea will continue for another day or two, Russia's negotiator said Wednesday.

"We have agreed that they [the talks] will be prolonged for another day or two to find a solution to the financial issue," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov said.

The United States has unfrozen the Communist state's accounts as a precondition for Pyongyang to close down its nuclear reactor. But Washington also banned U.S. financial organizations from dealing with the BDA Macao Bank, which it suspects of laundering North Korea's money, complicating the return of the funds to Pyongyang.

Losyukov said the Bank of China had refused to transfer North Korea's $25 million from frozen accounts in the BDA bank.

"As for money transfers through banks in some other country, these banks will also want to know whether they will be subject to [U.S.] sanctions as well," Losyukov said, explaining the Bank of China's refusal.

The current round of talks, which began Monday and was designed to push ahead with disarmament steps in 60 days for aid and security guarantees, stalled the next day, when the impoverished nation demanded confirmation that its money in a Macao bank has been released.

A negotiator from China, which is hosting the talks, also said discussions would continue.

"All the parties have agreed to continue talks for a required period of time to resolve 'technical difficulties'," Qin Gang said without elaborating.

South Korea's top nuclear negotiator, Chun Yung-woo, said "ways to resolve the problem of money transfers from BDA bank are continuing to be discussed at a bilateral level, and the outcome of the discussions is difficult to predict."

South Korea's Yonhap agency said earlier Wednesday, citing officials at the talks in Beijing, that the bank had to handle about 50 accounts, most of which had been registered with two North Korean officials, one of whom had died and the other was in Pyongyang.

This could further complicate the transfers as authorities in Macao said earlier the money would be returned to the holders of the accounts.

Russia's Losyukov said he would return to Moscow Thursday to attend meetings planned for Chinese leader Hu Jintao's visit, but the Russian delegation would stay in Beijing.

The diplomat said North Korea's delegation, which had also planned to depart Thursday, would continue work in the Chinese capital.

Pyongyang returned to the table last December after conducting its first nuclear bomb test in October and subsequent U.N. sanctions. The six countries - the U.S. China, North and South Korea, Russia and Japan - reached a breakthrough deal February 13.

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