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US: North Korean Financial Dispute Should be Resolved Soon

A U.S. envoy says the North Korean financial dispute should be resolved soon, paving the way for Pyongyang to begin nuclear disarmament.

Speaking in Washington Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said he is hopeful there will be some news on the situation very soon.

At issue is the transfer of $25 million in North Korean funds being held by a bank in Macau.

North Korea has refused to honor a February deal to begin shutting down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor until receives the money.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesman Wednesday said his country is not opposed to participating in the transfer of the funds. He said Russia is looking into the legal details to make sure its assistance does not lead to U.S. sanctions against its banks.

The money was frozen in 2005, after the United States alleged the Macau bank was tied to money laundering by North Korea. Washington agreed to allow the transfer of the funds in March. However, third-country banks have been reluctant to get involved in moving the funds.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.