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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 March 2007, 05:14 GMT
Seoul to resume N Korea flood aid
South Koreans prepare aid shipments for North Korea in July 2006
South Korea stopped aid shipments after the North's nuclear test
South Korea says it will resume emergency aid to flood victims in North Korea, in the latest apparent reward for its pledge to close nuclear sites.

South Korea cut off relief supplies for victims of last year's floods after the North tested a nuclear bomb last year.

But relations have been warming since the agreement on the North's nuclear facilities was reached last month.

However, parts of the deal are proving problematic, with negotiations in China spilling into an unplanned fourth day.

The government in Seoul announced on Thursday that it would fulfil a pledge to deliver relief supplies including blankets, thousands of tons of rice and construction equipment.

The South started sending the aid after heavy rains last July led to floods that were believed to have killed hundreds of North Koreans and made thousands homeless.

The first shipments are expected to resume next week.

Awaiting cash

Meanwhile, six-nation talks in Beijing made no progress on Wednesday.

North Korea wants $25m (13m) in frozen funds returned from a Macau bank before it continues to discuss the next steps in the disarmament plan.

The US announced on Monday that the North Korean money would be transferred from Macau's Banco Delta Asia (BDA) to a bank in China, as Washington had completed an investigation into money-laundering, freeing up the frozen assets.

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Unblocking the funds was a key demand for the North in the recent nuclear deal.

But it appears that Pyongyang is unwilling to hold any more discussions until it actually receives the money.

US envoy Christopher Hill expressed his frustration at the delay.

"They've not completed the transfer, and until they do that the North Koreans have made clear they're not prepared to engage on the substantive discussions," he said.

The North is expected to shut down its Yongbyon reactor within 60 days of the deal - which was struck in mid-February - in order to comply with the terms of the agreement.

In return it will receive fuel aid.

Mr Hill said he wanted discussions to move on to the next steps in the process, in which North Korea is to disable the reactor and make a full declaration of its nuclear programmes.

"There's a lot to do in that next phase and I don't want us to wait three weeks or four weeks until we meet again to start hammering out what those sequence of undertakings will look like," he said.

"I think we need to get a discussion going now."

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