BEIJING: The United States and Pyongyang have struck a deal to release North Korean funds frozen in Macau, clearing the way for progress in nuclear disarmament talks, a senior US official said here Monday.
“The United States and the North Korean government have reached an understanding on this position of DPRK-related funds frozen at Banco Delta Asia,” deputy assistant US Treasury secretary Daniel Glaser told reporters.
All of the roughly $25 million frozen in the Macau-based bank since 2005 due to accusations of money laundering and counterfeiting would be released back to North Korea, he said.
“North Korea has pledged... that these funds will be used solely for the betterment of the North Korean people, including for humanitarian and educational purposes,” Glaser said.
“We believe this resolves the issue of the DPRK-related frozen funds,” he added, referring to North Korea by its official acronym.
The announcement came shortly before the start of another round of six-nation talks in Beijing aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
North Korea had insisted that it would not agree to implementing a disarmanent deal reached in the six-party forum last month until the dispute over the financial sanctions had been resolved.
Under the 13 February deal, North Korea would get badly needed energy aid and diplomatic concessions in return for shutting down its nuclear programmes.
The talks involve the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia.