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South Korea To Explore Peace Summit To End Korean War

The two Koreas, the US and China amy hold a summit to replace an armistice with a peace pact to end the Korean war.

Bush: Patience with NKorea 'not unlimited'
Camp David (AFP) Maryland, April 27 - US President George W. Bush said Friday that the international community's patience over North Korea's nuclear promises was "not unlimited" and warned of new sanctions. Global powers involved in talks to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program are "patient but our patience is not unlimited," he said after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "We talked about our mutual desire for North Korea to meet its obligations," Bush told a joint news conference with Abe, who described the situation as "regrettable."

"We expect North Korea to meet all its commitments under the February 13th agreement, and we will continue working closely with our partners," the president said. Abe also lamented North Korea's attitude regarding the abductions of Japanese citizens. "We agree that the current state of the six-party talks, as well as North Korea's attitude towards the abduction issue, are regrettable and we'll work for closer coordination between our two countries to achieve progress," he said.

The February agreement set April 14 as the deadline for North Korea to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor as the first step in scrapping its nuclear programmes. But that date slipped by because of an unresolved dispute involving North Korean funds held in a Macau bank, which Bush called "a bump in the road" that was being clarified. The agreement was brokered at six-party talks with North Korea also involving China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States. Bush said that if North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il fails to make the "right choice," the global community has "a structure in place" to step up the pressure.

"We have the capability of more sanctions. We have the capability of convincing other nations to send a clear message," he said. South Korea's spy agency said Thursday that North Korea may be preparing to invite UN atomic inspectors to its key nuclear facility, as a prelude to shutting it down. Unusual activity has been spotted around the Yongbyon reactor, which produces the raw material for plutonium to make nuclear weapons, the South Korean parliament's intelligence committee said in a statement.

by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) April 29, 2007
A South Korean presidential aide will visit the United States next month to explore the idea of holding a peace summit to try and finally bring an official end to the 1950s Korean war, a news report said Sunday. Lee Hae-Chan, a former prime minister and special political advisor to President Roh Moo-Hyun, will embark on a 10-day trip to the US on May 10 for talks on holding a four-way peace summit, Yonhap news agency said.

He is to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other US officials and leaders in Washington after a stopover in Los Angeles to attend a South Korean pro-democracy ceremony, Yonhap said.

His US trip follows his visits to North Korea and China last month and it is hoped all four parties will be involved in the process.

"I believe he will exchange views on what he had felt about North Korea during his trip to Pyongyang," a Uri Party official told Yonhap, adding Lee will be travelling in his capacity as the head of the party's Committee on Northeast Asian Peace.

The official said Lee and Rice could "discuss the possibility of the four-nation summit" aimed at bringing peace on the Korean peninsula, still technically in a state of war since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict.

Lee has publicly stressed a need for the two Koreas, the US and China to hold a summit to replace an armistice with a peace pact to end the Korean war.

Accompanied by Uri Party lawmakers during his US trip, Yonhap said, Lee is also expected to meet with Christopher Hill, US chief nuclear negotiator to the six party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

The multilateral diplomatic process -- involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States -- has set the establishing of a regional peace regime in northeast Asia as one of its long-term goals.

Under a landmark February 13 agreement, North Korea should have shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor in the presence of UN inspectors as the first step in scrapping its nuclear programmes by April 14.

But the deadline slipped by due to an unresolved dispute over North Korea's 25 million dollars frozen at a Macau bank since 2005 at the US instigation over allegations of money laundering and counterfeiting.

Pyongyang refuses to act until it gets the money back.

earlier related report
North Korea moves to withdraw Macau funds: report
Seoul (AFP) April 29 - North Korea has moved to withdraw its previously frozen funds from a Macau bank, which would allow progress in nuclear disarmament by the communist state, a report said Sunday.

Seoul's Yonhap news agency, quoting an unnamed Banco Delta Asia (BDA) official, said Pyongyang last week asked Macau authorities to help transfer the money, worth some 25 million dollars, from the Macau bank.

Yonhap said the BDA official expected the funds to be remitted online to North Korea with Singapore, Vietnam and Mongolia possibly involved.

"On April 27, North Korea asked for help from the Macau financial authorities with regards to the money transfer. The financial authorities have ordered BDA to prepare for the money transfer," the official said.

"It is highly likely that the transfer will be made very soon."

Yonhap said the funds were held under 52 accounts in eight currencies -- including US and Hong Kong dollars, Japanese yen, euros and Swiss francs.

The delayed transfer has hampered progress in six party talks -- involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States -- aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Under a landmark February 13 agreement, North Korea should have shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor in the presence of UN inspectors as the first step in scrapping its nuclear programmes by April 14.

But the deadline slipped by due to an unresolved dispute over the funds frozen at a Macau bank since 2005 at US instigation over allegations of money laundering and counterfeiting.

Pyongyang has refused to act until it gets the money back.

South Korea's spy agency, citing activity in building new accommodation facilities in Yongbyon, said Thursday North Korea may be preparing to invite UN atomic inspectors back, as a prelude to shutting it down.

earlier related report
China nuclear envoy optimistic for NKorean deal: report
Tokyo (AFP) April 28 - China's top nuclear negotiator said on Saturday Beijing was optimistic for the North Korean denuclearisation deal, which has been stalled due to a row over Pyongyang funds frozen at a Macau bank, a report said.

"A solution is being sought in a way that the government of Macau will handle" the frozen assets, Wu Dawei was quoted as saying by Japan's Jiji Press news agency.

"We have a good outlook for a solution," he said. "Good news will come soon."

Wu, who met Japanese senior politician Koichi Kato in Beijing, also said the UN nuclear watchdog was keeping contacts with North Korea, adding that Pyongyang "has told the nuclear agency that it would accept inspections after the BDA (Banco Delta Asia) row is resolved."

"The latest nuclear deal stipulates the disablement of all existing nuclear facilities," Wu said. "We acknowledge it also includes programmes related to uranium enrichment."

China is North Korea's main ally and the broker of the six-nation talks that led to a February 13 agreement with Pyongyang. Under the deal, North Korea promised to shut down and seal its Yongbyon reactor in exchange for energy aid. But Pyongyang last month refused to act until it receives some 25 million dollars of its funds frozen in Macau's Banco Delta Asia.

The funds were frozen in 2005 at Washington's behest over allegations of money laundering and counterfeiting. US authorities last month dropped the sanctions and said it was up to the Macau authorities to release the cash. But the funds have not yet being transferred, reportedly due to problems finding a bank willing to handle the cash.

North Korea failed to meet the April 14 deadline to take the initial actions under the deal. Wu also told the Japanese delegation that China requested Japan to bear a proper share of the burden of providing 950,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil to North Korea once it disables its nuclear facilities.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, known for his hard line on North Korea, has said he would not provide any aid under the US-backed six-nation deal until North Korea resolves a row over its kidnapping of Japanese citizens.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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