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Japan Calls For China Help In North Korea Banking Row

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) April 03, 2007
Japan on Tuesday urged China to help secure the release of millions of dollars claimed by North Korea which has held up nuclear disarmament talks until the funds are transferred.

"There are several difficult problems involved. So we requested China to help solve this money transfer issue," Japanese foreign ministry press secretary Mitsuo Sakaba told a news conference in New Delhi.

Sakaba said Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso made the request to his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing during talks on the sidelines of the South Asian summit, which Tokyo and Beijing are attending as observers.

US and Chinese officials have been holding talks in Beijing over how to arrange the return to North Korea of about 25 million dollars frozen in a Macau bank by US financial sanctions in 2005 due to accusations of money laundering and counterfeiting.

Pyongyang has been demanding the money before it will cooperate further on a new North Korean nuclear disarmament accord it signed in February.

The United States has agreed to free up the funds, which were supposed to be transferred within a month after the February 13 nuclear deal was signed to a North Korean account with the Bank of China.

However, the state-owned lender has reportedly refused to accept the money for fear of possibly affecting its credit rating.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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