Japan’s Kishida seeks talks with N Korean leader

Tokyo, Feb 13 (UNI) Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is redoubling efforts to have talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but did not notify partners in the United States of it, the Financial Times newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the developments.

A possible summit with Kim would allow Kishida to secure the release of the Japanese citizens who were kidnapped by North Korean special forces many years ago. Pyongyang has been rejecting requests related to the abductees so far, the newspaper reported, citing people close to the talks.

Washington, on its part, is likely to welcome high-level contacts between Tokyo and Pyongyang, provided that Japan holds consultations with South Korea in advance to prevent any confusion, the newspaper reported, citing an undisclosed US official.

Kishida intensified his diplomatic efforts toward North Korea following Kim’s letter of sympathy over the major earthquake that hit Japan this January, which has been perceived as a good sign, the newspaper added.

Tokyo says that the North Korean secret services have kidnapped at least 17 Japanese citizens since the 1970s, while Pyongyang confirmed only 13 cases. Five of the abductees were able to return to Japan following then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to North Korea in 2002 and 2004. North Korea says eight more abductees have died, but Japan considers the evidence of death presented to be false and demands the extradition of all its citizens.

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