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Top US Nuclear Negotiator Urges North Korea to End Weapons Programs


The United States' top nuclear negotiator urged North Korea to quickly honor its February commitment to shut down its nuclear reactor. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill says he thinks a technical problem in transferring North Korean funds to Pyongyang will be solved soon. That means, he says, Pyongyang should start dismantling its nuclear weapons facilities.

"They know we are working very hard on this matter of the banking issue," he said. "The United States and my team, we've worked very hard on this and we're looking forward to some discussions with the Chinese, I'm going to see them tomorrow. We are doing all we can. We will get through this. We will resolve it."

In February, North Korea promised South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia to shut down and eventually dismantle its nuclear facilities in exchange for economic assistance and diplomatic benefits.

However, Pyongyang says it will not begin doing so until its money in a Macau bank is returned.

The $25 million was frozen after U.S. officials began investigating links to suspected illegal activities by North Korea, such as money laundering.

Earlier this year, Washington said the money could be released, but international banks are reluctant to process the transfer to North Korea.

Hill says North Korea should let the U.S. resolve the banking issue and get on with implementing the February agreement, including allowing inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA.

"The whole process would be helped immeasurably if the North Koreans simply left it to us to work on this and get on with their task which is to get the IAEA in and shut down this nuclear facility that has caused the problem in the first place," Hill said.

Hill was in Indonesia meeting with top government officials to discuss bilateral and regional issues. The U.S. considers Indonesia, a democratic nation with the world's largest Muslim population, a close ally in the war on terror.

On Wednesday, Hill heads to Beijing to discuss ways to resume the six-party talks with North Korea.

Before Indonesia, Hill visited Vietnam and the Philippines to discuss regional security and investment issues. He also briefed each nation on the North Korean nuclear issue.

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