N Korea envoy walks away from talks

Talks in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear programme have broken down with the North Korean and Russian envoys both apparently heading home.

N Korea envoy walks away from talks
Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea's chief negotiator, was seen taking a flight back to Pyongyang from Beijing on Thursday afternoon, following two days of stalled talks.
 
The North Korean delegation had refused to continue with negotiations until it is able to access $25m in funds that had been frozen in a Macau bank.
 
The US said on Monday that it had given approval for the funds to be released, raising hopes that a major sticking point had been removed.

The transfer of the money has been delayed due to unexplained problems.

US and Japanese officials have expressed frustration about the failure to make any progress.

North Korea's chief negotiator Kim Kye-gwan made no comment as he arrived at Beijing's airport. An Air Koryo flight bound for the North Korean capital Pyongyang left soon afterwards.

The talks, which began on Monday, were extended into Thursday after North Korea said it wanted the Macau bank issue resolved first.

North Korean negotiator Kim Kye Gwan, left, was seen leaving Beijing [GALLO/Getty]

Nuclear arms dispute
 
But the North Koreans said no talks would be held until the funds appeared in a Bank of China account held in Beijing.

It is not clear what has caused the delay in transferring the funds.

Kim Kye-gwan made no comment to reporters waiting at Beijing airport.
 
The six nation talks – bringing together envoys from the US, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas – had been intended to fine-tune a timetable for North Korea to shut down its nuclear weapons programme and disarm.
 
The North Korean funds were frozen in 2005 following allegations from the US that they were related to North Korean money laundering and counterfeiting operations.
 
Christopher Hill, the chief US envoy to the nuclear talks, had expected North Korea to be satisfied with Monday's announcement that Washington had completed its investigations and would allow the funds to be moved.
 
Instead the North Korean delegation said it would not proceed with talks until the money had been transferred to the Beijing bank account.
 
Under a landmark deal agreed in February North Korea agreed to start dismantling its nuclear programme in return for promises of aid and talks on normalising relations.

Frustration

The US announced on Monday that the North Korean money - worth $25m (£13m) - would be transferred from Macau's Banco Delta Asia (BDA) to a bank in China, as Washington had completed an investigation into money-laundering allegations.

N KOREA NUCLEAR DEAL
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But this was not enough for Pyongyang, which said it wanted to have the money transferred to a North Korean account in China before continuing to discuss the next steps in the disarmament plan.

But the transfer could not happen immediately, leading to a deadlock in negotiations, and leaving the other five nations at the talks frustrated at the lack of progress.

"It's a shame to use this as a reason to not take part in negotiations for two days. It's really a waste, especially with everyone gathered there," Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, told a news conference in Tokyo.

 

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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