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DPRK-Japan talks slow over abduction issue
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-07 06:20

Negotiators from Tokyo and Pyongyang met for the third straight day in Beijing yesterday, to discuss specific details on normalizing diplomatic ties.

Since the bilateral talks opened on Saturday, the two countries have made little progress, as the Japanese side insisted that it would be very difficult to normalize diplomatic ties without a solution to the past abduction of Japanese nationals.

However, Pyongyang also had major expectations about settling the past during yesterday's panel.

Before joining the talks, Song Il-ho, its head negotiator in the panel, told reporters that the settlement of those issues is not of a temporary nature, and should be solved through a historical and moral point of view.

He said his country would like to see whether Japan is willing to settle the issues left over from history, referring to Pyongyang's call for Japan to atone for its 1910-45 occupation of the Korean Peninsula.

According to Song, yesterday's discussion mainly covered such issues as economic co-operation, the status of ethnic Koreans in Japan and the return of cultural assets.

Koichi Haraguchi, Song's Japanese counterpart in the panel, said he hopes to reconfirm the two countries' previous agreement, under which Japan would give aid to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) rather than money to settle the issue.

He said the economic co-operation can be realized only when ties are actually normalized, a process that is hinged largely on the failure of solving the abduction dispute.

"The normalization of ties itself would not be possible without a solution to issues including the kidnapping issue," he added.

Japan would convey all the messages fully to the DPRK side, he said, adding that the Japanese side hoped DPRK's further understanding of its proposals would contribute positively to the talks.

Japan and the DPRK have been holding talks in Beijing under a new three-track format, the first high-level bilateral contact since the two countries' representatives met in Malaysia in 2002.

(China Daily 02/07/2006 page2)

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