Japan and North Korea plan to relaunch talks

Posted in Koreas , Japan | 06-Oct-05 | Author: Choi Sang-yeon| Source: Joong Ang Daily

October 06, 2005 - A South Korean Foreign Ministry official said yesterday that Japan and North Korea have agreed to restart negotiations next week aimed at normalizing ties between the countries.

"Both sides are currently in the final stages of deciding on a venue for the negotiations where senior working-level officials are expected to meet," the official said.

The official said Beijing is likely to become the venue as both sides find it hard to narrow differences over selecting the location. The North has argued for Pyongyang while Japan wants to hold the negotiations in Tokyo, he said.

Negotiations are expected to encompass several issues ranging from the North Korean nuclear programs to Japanese abductees.

As part of a joint statement issued last month in Beijing in which principles to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis were laid out, both sides agreed to undertake steps to normalize their relations.

"The negotiations will be meaningful as they resume after an 11-month hiatus after talks were broken off in November last year," the official said.

Since 1990, the two countries have held more than 10 bilateral meetings in a bid to normalize ties but the Japanese abductee issue has hindered progress in these talks.

Ties between the countries reached a new low at the end of last year after Tokyo argued that DNA testing on the supposed remains of a Japanese female abductee returned by Pyongyang showed they did not belong to the kidnap victim. At the time Japanese lawmakers called on their government to cut off aid to the communist nation.