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Japan, N. Korea likely to discuss abduction issue.

| TOKYO, Aug 31 (KUNA) -- Japan and North Korea may take up the issue of Pyongyang's past abductions of Japanese nationals in future talks, Kyodo News Agency reported Friday, citing a Japanese official.

The two countries agreed to put wide-ranging issues of "mutual concern" on the agenda after three days of intergovernmental talks in Beijing, the report said.

"It is clear that the abduction issue is part of our concerns...(hence it) should be dealt with" in succeeding talks, the Foreign Ministry official told reporters in the Chinese capital, in a possible sign of making headway on the long-stalled issue.

The first government-to-government talks after a four-year hiatus carried the hopes of aging relatives of Japanese abductees that progress could be made on an issue that remains a major obstacle to normalizing bilateral ties.

The North maintains the abduction cases have been resolved, but Japan has been seeking a reinvestigation into the abductions that took place in the 1970s and 1980s. The last time they held talks in August 2008, Japan and North Korea agreed on a reinvestigation, but Pyongyang later broke off the deal.

North Korea "fully understands" Japan's interest in including the abduction issue on the agenda of the talks, the official was quoted as saying. But there have been no indications as to how exactly North Korean officials responded to Japan's call to take up the abduction issue.

Representatives from both countries at the working-level meeting also agreed to upgrade their intergovernmental talks to a higher-level meeting, again in Beijing, at an early date, the official said.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a press conference that Japan believes the abduction issue should be discussed between the two sides and that it welcomes the agreement with North Korea to hold higher-level talks..

No tangible progress has been seen in the abduction issue since five of the Japanese abductees were repatriated to Japan in 2002. The five are part of the 17 nationals recognized by the Japanese government as having been abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s. (end) mk.ajs KUNA 311504 Aug 12NNNN

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Aug 31, 2012
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