As I understand it, the US Treasury has completed its investigation. Handling of the matter lies with the Chinese authorities, who have issued a statement saying they will release the funds. Yet, that's not good enough. Money in the account. Of course, this could be politically motivated (to make a point), as opposed to a simple lack of trust.
Apparently China (the source of this information) urged the North to attend the talks anyway, but to no avail. Kenichiro Sasae, the leading Japanese negotiator, is quoted as having said, "According to China, North Korea said they will not come to join further discussions until they confirm that their money got into their bank account in China," and, "There was no progress at all today." "China as chairman (of the talks) urged North Korea to come to the table but they would not come."
- Answering those who had questions about how the funds would be used once released, Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser noted that they would be "used solely for the betterment of the North Korean people." Really? OK. I'd be very interested to know what measures are being used (and by whom) that allow a statement of such certainty to be made with regard to monitoring how the North uses & spends money domestically.
- South Korean envoy Chun Yung-woo is quoted as saying, "If there is a single nuclear weapon left in North Korea, it is not denuclearization," Chun said. "What we are pursuing is a complete denuclearization." Wow. Clearly worded and unequivocal. Ambitious, too.
- Issues remain between the DPRK and Japan...and are apparently presenting an obstacle to further progress. Japan says it won't contribute aid until the abduction issue is resolved. North Korea, for its part, says it doesn't want Japanese aid (thank you very much!!), and that Japan should drop issuse, issue an apology for its wartime aggression against the North, and compensate it.
And so it goes...