November 4, 2005

Japan, N.Korea end talks with no agreement

By Teruaki Ueno

BEIJING (Reuters) - Japan and North Korea ended two days of
talks on Friday with no visible progress in long-standing
disputes that have blocked the Asian neighbors from forging
diplomatic ties.

Negotiators from both sides, who met in Beijing,
acknowledged that they failed to reach any conclusive agreement
on key issues including North Korea's kidnapping of Japanese
citizens decades ago.

"There is nothing we have agreed upon," North Korean
negotiator Song Il-ho told reporters.

The two-day talks centered on the abduction of Japanese to
help train North Korean spies and the issue of reparations for
Japan's often brutal colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from
1910 to 1945.

North Korea has admitted abducting 13 people in the 1970s
and 1980s to help train spies. Five of them have returned to
Japan with their children, and Pyongyang says the other eight
are dead.

But Japan has been pressing for further information on the
eight and another three who Tokyo says were also kidnapped.

The differences over the kidnappings, the main obstacle to
improved ties, intensified after DNA tests showed that bones
handed over to Japanese diplomats a year ago were not those of
Japanese abductees, as Pyongyang had claimed.

Japanese negotiator Akitaka Saiki said he had had "in
depth" discussions with Song on the issues and exchanged
"harsh" words.

He said Japan and North Korea would try to have another
round of talks at an unspecified date.

The United States has thrown its support behind Japan in a
standoff with North Korea over the issue.

Joseph DeTrani, U.S. special envoy for North Korea, said on
Wednesday that the timing of removing North Korea from the U.S.
list of states accused of sponsoring terrorism depended on
Pyongyang satisfying Japan's demands concerning the

Tokyo has offered full-scale financial aid to impoverished
North Korea, but only after diplomatic ties are established.

Japan gave South Korea $500 million when the two countries
normalized ties in 1965, and some analysts have said it could
provide up to $10 billion to the impoverished North.

"We are having talks with our clear position that there
will be no normalization of relations unless the abduction,
nuclear and missile issues are resolved," a Japanese Foreign
Ministry official said in Beijing late on Thursday.

The Beijing talks between foreign ministry officials from
the two countries come after North Korea agreed in principle in
September to dismantle its nuclear arms programs in exchange
for aid and better ties with Washington and Tokyo.

Six-party talks on the nuclear crisis, involving China, the
two Koreas, Japan, Russia and the United States, resume in
Beijing next week.

(Additional reporting by Masayuki Kitano in Tokyo)