Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Koizumi, Kim Jong Il Concludes First Round of Talks

Kim Jong Il, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), and Junichiro Koizumi, prime minister of Japan, concluded their first round of normalization talks Tuesday morning in Pyongyang.


Kim Jong Il, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), and Junichiro Koizumi, prime minister of Japan, concluded their first round of normalization talks Tuesday morning in Pyongyang.

According to media reports, the DPRK will provide Japan with information on one of 11 Japanese nationals missing in the 1970s and 1980s.

The whereabouts of two other missing Japanese nationals who arenot among the 11 are also likely to be revealed, the reports said.

Japan and the DPRK have no diplomatic relations and talks on normalizing ties have been stalled for almost two years.

Japan preconditioned normalization with the DPRK on the latter's providing information on 11 missing Japanese nationals. Before his trip here, Koizumi said Japan will not agree to resume normalization talks with the DPRK without progress on the issue of missing Japanese nationals.

The Koizumi-Kim summit began shortly after Koizumi touched down here Tuesday morning on an 11-hour aimed at resolving issues that have stood in the way of normalizing diplomatic ties between the two neighbors.

The talks were expected to focus on matters concerning Japan's past colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, the issue of missing Japanese nationals as well as security.

Upon his arrival at the Pyongyang Sun An International Airport at 9:12 local time (0112 GMT) on a special Boeing 747 flight, Koizumi was greeted by Supreme People's Assembly Presidium Chairman Kim Yong Nam.

As there are no formal diplomatic relations between the DPRK and Japan, no welcoming ceremony was arranged at the airport. Nor were the two countries' national flags seen at the airport or on the streets of Pyongyang. Even Koizumi's car had no flag on it.

Koizumi's ice-breaking visit came after a series of talks in July and August, involving foreign ministers, Red Cross officials and senior working-level officials of the foreign ministries, yielded encouraging results.

DPRK Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi met during the ASEAN Regional Forum in Brunei in July. The two countries then held Red Cross talks in Pyongyang on August 18-19 and the senior working-level talks involving foreign ministry officials in Pyongyang on August 25-26.

At the end of the most recent talks, the two sides issued a joint statement saying the two countries had agreed to decide in amonth whether to resume the suspended negotiations on normalizing bilateral ties. The two countries noted the need to resolve "in a comprehensive manner" various pending issues.

The DPRK and Japan started an ambassador-level dialogue in 1991,but the talks were suspended in October 2000 after 11 rounds, amidhuge differences over the key issues. However Koizumi has expressed his resolve to break the impasse over the stalled talks.

The DPRK's insistent demand for an apology and compensation from Japan for its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910to 1945, and the issue of 11 "missing Japanese", who Japan allegeswere abducted by the DPRK in the 1970s and 1980s, are the two major issues impeding the normalization talks between the two sides.

The resumption of the talks between the DPRK and Japan depends on whether the leaders of the two countries can reach agreements on resolving the key issues at the summit.

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