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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 March 2007, 11:27 GMT
No progress at North Korea talks
North Korean envoy Kim Kye-gwan waves to reporters as he arrives at Beijing airport on 22 March 2007
Kim Kye-gwan made no comment to reporters at Beijing airport
Six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear programme have ended without progress after its chief negotiator flew home amid a row over money.

The Beijing talks stalled after Pyongyang refused to discuss a deal to disable its nuclear facilities until it recovers $25m held in a Macau bank.

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

The US negotiator said that despite the setback, the process to disarm North Korea was still "on track".

"It is our strong view that we are still on schedule," Christopher Hill told reporters.

He was speaking after a statement from the hosts, China, said the talks had been suspended with no date set for a resumption.

"The parties agreed to recess and will resume the talks at the earliest opportunity," a Chinese government statement said.

N KOREA NUCLEAR DEAL
map
N Korea to 'shut down and seal' Yongbyon reactor, then disable all nuclear facilities
In return, will be given 1m tonnes of heavy fuel oil
N Korea to invite IAEA back to monitor deal
Under earlier 2005 deal, N Korea agreed to end nuclear programme and return to non-proliferation treaty
N Korea's demand for light water reactor to be discussed at "appropriate time"

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, had been extended into Thursday after North Korea said it wanted the Macau bank issue resolved first.

Correspondents say the lack of progress in this week's talks is a big setback, but there is still probably enough time for North Korea to keep to its side of the bargain.

Under the 13 February deal, North Korea agreed to initially "shut down and seal" its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon by mid-April and also allow UN inspectors back into the country.

In return, Pyongyang was promised energy aid.

The BBC's James Reynolds in Beijing says other countries involved in the talks will not want to see the entire deal collapse just because of a delayed bank transfer.

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.

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.

The US chief envoy, Christopher Hill, also voiced his anger.

"The day I'm able to explain to you North Korean thinking is probably the day I've been in this process too long," he told reporters.

Teams from the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the US have been taking part in the Beijing talks.


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