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N. Korea open to high-level talks with Japan if Tokyo unshackled by past: vice FM

15:25 May 29, 2023

SEOUL/TOKYO, May 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's vice foreign minister said Pyongyang is willing to hold high-level talks with Tokyo if Japan shows a change of stance on pending issues, such as the abduction of Japanese citizens by the North, the country's state media reported Monday.

The statement by the North's Vice Foreign Minister Pak Sang-gil, carried by its Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), came after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recently expressed his wish to initiate high-level talks with Pyongyang to arrange a summit with the North's leader, Kim Jong-un.

According to the KCNA, Park said "there is no reason for the DPRK and Japan not to meet" if Tokyo is not being "shackled by the past and seeks a way out for improving the relations." DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

The vice foreign minister noted that Japan was "clamoring for settlement over the abduction issue," which he claimed "had already been resolved."

Pak argued Kishida has consistently expressed the desire for a summit "without preconditions" after he took office but added, "we do not know what he really wants to get from it."

He added that Japan should demonstrate its willingness to resolve issues through concrete actions rather than mere words.

Following the KCNA report, Kishida reiterated to reporters his willingness to engage with the North, saying he himself has approached the abduction issue with the determination to face it directly and make specific progress.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno refrained from commenting at a press briefing, citing concerns over possibly affecting future negotiations.

In this file photo, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is pictured as he exits a conference with chiefs of major South Korean business associations at a Seoul hotel on May 8, 2023, before returning home following his two-day visit to South Korea. (Yonhap)



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