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Japan-North Korea Talks in Vietnam Suspended


Talks between Japan and North Korea that began in Hanoi Wednesday morning have been suspended by the North Korean side. No reason was given for the suspension. Matt Steinglass reports from Hanoi.

Delegations from North Korea and Japan began meeting Wednesday morning to discuss establishing diplomatic relations and Japanese aid for the Pyongyang regime.

But the talks, which were scheduled to continue Wednesday afternoon and Thursday, were suspended without explanation by the North Koreans after the morning session.

An official at the North Korean embassy confirmed the halt.

The official says the talks have been suspended, and an explanation will follow later.

A Japanese official says the Japanese embassy was phoned by the North Korean embassy and informed that the afternoon talks would not take place. The official said no information was given as to why the North Koreans had broken the talks off, or when they might resume.

The talks were scheduled in conjunction with six-party talks in Beijing aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. South Korea, China, the United States and Russia are involved in those talks, along with Japan and North Korea.

During the meetings here Wednesday, the Japanese raised the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970's and '80's. Tokyo has said North Korea's failure to provide full details about the abductions is the main stumbling block to the establishment of normal diplomatic relations.

North Korea has admitted to 13 such kidnappings. Five of the abductees were allowed to return to Japan in 2002, while Pyongyang says the rest have died. Japan claims there were at least 17 kidnappings, and the Japanese are demanding full details on all of the victims.

Japan has said it will not consider giving aid to North Korea until the abduction issue is resolved.

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