July 28, 2005

Japan, N.Korea may hold bilateral talks Fri-report

TOKYO (Reuters) - China, host of six-party talks on North
Korea's nuclear arms programs, is making arrangements for a
bilateral meeting between Japan and North Korea in Beijing on
Friday, a Japanese newspaper reported.

Japan and North Korea are locked in a dispute over North
Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals decades ago, an issue
that Japan insists must be resolved to establish diplomatic
relations between the two countries.

North Korea has given a positive response, and China plans
to have the meeting take place after bilateral talks between
the United States and North Korea planned for Friday morning,
the Tokyo Shimbun said on Friday.

The Japan-North Korea talks, which would be their first
bilateral meeting since November, could be delayed depending on
how long the U.S.-North Korea meeting takes, the paper said,
quoting an unnamed source related to the six-way talks.

Japan's chief negotiator at the six-way talks denied on
Thursday a report by China's Xinhua news agency that he and his
North Korean counterpart had agreed to hold talks at "an
appropriate time."

"There is no such thing," Kyodo news agency quoted
Kenichiro Sasae, director general of the Japanese Foreign
Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, as saying when
asked about the Xinhua report.

Sasae, however, told reporters he was trying to arrange a
bilateral meeting with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim
Kye- gwan in Beijing, and added that other parties were
supporting Japan in this respect, Kyodo said.