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Japan, DPRK diplomats discuss abductions
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-06 06:15

Tokyo and Pyongyang continued their second day of talks in Beijing yesterday, discussing ways to solve the past abductions of Japanese nationals.

The issue has prevented Japan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from normalizing their diplomatic relations.

Japan, DPRK diplomats discuss abductions
DPRK negotiator Kim Chol-ho speaks to reporters before the talks. [AFP]

It is the first high-level bilateral contact in three years for Japan and the DPRK and the talks have been designed to be held in a three-track discussion after the negotiators met in a plenary session on Saturday afternoon in Beijing. The previous round of talks was held in Malaysia in 2002.

The fresh round of talks are scheduled to cover the abduction issue, normalization of diplomatic ties and regional security. The three panels will each be given a day for negotiation.

The Japanese head negotiator on the panel tasked with the abduction issue is Kunio Umeda, deputy chief of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau. His counterpart from the DPRK is Kim Chol-ho, head of the Foreign Ministry's Japanese Affairs Section.

"There have been big differences regarding how to resolve the abduction issue," Kim told reporters before the start of the session, saying the two sides would exchange their positions on the issue.

In 2002, the DPRK admitted to kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens and released five of them, saying the other eight had died. Tokyo, however, still wants evidence of the deaths and wants Pyongyang to fully investigate the cases of other suspected abductees. In return, the DPRK wants to settle historical issues regarding Japan's colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.

Kunio said the kidnappings were the main concern for Japan and demanded the DPRK to take sincere and concrete steps to investigate them.

The panel focusing on normali-zation of diplomatic ties will be held today, with Koichi Haraguchi and Song Il-ho, the ambassadors in charge of bilateral ties for the two sides, as chief negotiators.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, Japanese envoy of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, and Jong Thae-yang, deputy chief of the DPRK Foreign Ministry's US Affairs Department, are scheduled to hold talks tomorrow to tackle the nuclear issue.

China has been trying to resume the Six-Party Talks.

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