Thu, Aug 30, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Japan, North Korea hold first talks in four years

AFP, BEIJING

Officials from Japan and North Korea met yesterday in Beijing for their first talks in four years in an attempt to lay the groundwork to overcome decades of mutual distrust.

Ties between the two countries have long been strained, though they periodically try to resume dialogue with the ultimate — and so far elusive — goal of establishing formal diplomatic relations.

The talks come as governments and analysts seek clues about the emerging foreign policy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who took over the communist state after his father, Kim Jong-il, died in December.

An official with the Japanese embassy in Beijing confirmed that the discussions, which Tokyo has said are preparatory and which involve two relatively junior diplomats, had begun. The discussions were expected to last one day, but might stretch into today.

However, the issues that have long bedeviled relations remain largely the same as before, so it is unclear how much, if any, progress can be made in the encounter.

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