Thursday, July 21, 2005

No Role For Japan At Six-Party Talks Says North Korea

North Korea said on Wednesday Japan has no role to play at six-country talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear programs because Tokyo complicates an already difficult process by raising the issue of its abductees.
Japanese officials have said they plan to raise the topic of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago when six-country nuclear talks resume on July 26. North Korea has boycotted the talks for over a year. "Japan will find nothing to do at the future six-party talks even if it attends them unless it drops its crooked viewpoint and way of thinking," the North's official KCNA news agency said. "The six-party talks remain unchanged in their basic orientation and nature that the talks should substantially contribute to the de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," KCNA said. North Korea has said several times in its official media that it does not want Japan to participate in the six-party talks that also include China, Russia, South Korea and the United States.
North Korea has admitted to abducting 13 Japanese people in the 1970s and 1980s to help train its spies. Five were repatriated, and Pyongyang says the other eight are dead. Japan has been pressing for better information on the eight and another two who Tokyo says were also kidnapped. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week the issue of Japanese abductees was a valid subject to be dealt with at the six-party talks. But South Korea sees the issue as a strictly bilateral matter between North Korea and Japan to be discussed on the sidelines of the nuclear talks.
"Our basic position is that the purpose of the six-party talks is to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, and so discussions should focus on that," a South Korean official said on Friday. The talks resume on July 26 in Beijing after a break of 13 months. Three previous rounds since August 2003 produced no substantive progress.