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Japan, North Korean officials to meet for first time in 4 years

Published on Aug 14, 2012 5:43 PM
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba announces that Japan and North Korea will hold inter-governmental talks in China later this month, in the first face-to-face meeting between the sides in four years, at his office in Tokyo on Aug 14, 2012. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Diplomats from Japan and North Korea will meet for the first time in four yours later this month for talks that could touch on the contentious issue of the North's abduction of Japanese citizens decades ago, Japan said on Tuesday.

The talks, which are scheduled to be held in Beijing on Aug 29, would also be the first since Kim Jong Un took control of North Korea after his father, Kim Jong Il, died in December, a further signal he may be breaking free of decades of dour and reclusive management of the impoverished country.

North Korea abducted Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to train its spies in the Japanese language and culture.

Japan has repeatedly asked for more information about what happed to those who were kidnapped, but North Korea has insisted that the case is closed.

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