Mon, Oct 15, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Japan and North Korea to hold normalization talks

AFP , BEIJING

North Korean and Japanese officials arrived in northeast China for talks seen as aimed at normalizing diplomatic ties, a diplomat and reports said yesterday.

An Asian diplomat confirmed talks between the two sides were scheduled in Shenyang and were likely to last just one day.

Song Il-ho, North Korea's chief envoy in bilateral talks with Japan, and Shigeo Yamada, head of the Northeast Asia section of Japan's foreign ministry, arrived in Shenyang on Saturday, the Japanese business daily Nikkei Shimbun reported, without citing sources.

The talks follow reports suggesting an apparent shift away from confrontation by both Tokyo and Pyongyang.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who took over last month, is seen as more moderate than his hardline predecessor Shinzo Abe, who campaigned throughout his career for a tough line against the communist nation.

The North Korean diplomat, accompanied by several officials, refused to elaborate on his visit.

Japan and North Korea have held normalization talks this year under the framework of six-party denuclearization talks.

No breakthrough in an emotional row over kidnappings was made at the last round of talks in Mongolia last month. Both sides, however, agreed to keep talking.

Japan also insists that North Korea release all Japanese citizens believed to have been kidnapped decades ago.

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