S. Korea: Nuke talks hold-up nearing resolution

South Korea's foreign minister says banking dispute will be settled, declines to provide specifics.

s korea FM 88 (photo credit: )
s korea FM 88
(photo credit: )
A banking dispute that has held up North Korea's nuclear disarmament is nearing a resolution, South Korea's foreign minister said Wednesday. "We are in the final stage of solving the (banking) issue with related countries taking various concrete measures," Song Min-soon said at his weekly press briefing. "But it is too soon to say at exactly what time the issue will be resolved." Song also declined to provide specifics about how the dispute would be settled. He has repeatedly said in recent months that the issue was close to a resolution. "It is too soon to disclose what measures certain countries are taking at this point," Song said. "But, we have entered a stage where related countries, including North Korea, are to make final decisions." North Korea has refused to move forward on a February pledge to start dismantling its nuclear program until it receives US$25 million that had been frozen in a Macau bank blacklisted by the United States. Washington accused the bank of complicity in money laundering by the Pyongyang regime, but gave its blessing for the funds to be freed to win progress on the nuclear issue. The money's release has been held up for months because of technical hurdles in transferring it to another institution. The North has refused to withdraw the money in cash but instead wants the money electronically wired to another bank to prove the funds are now clean. South Korea's main nuclear envoy is now in Washington for meetings with his US counterpart, where he has also expressed optimism about progress on the financial dispute. The US Treasury Department has said Russia is offering its help to resolve the issue.