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No Apparent Progress as Japan, N. Korea Wrap Up Beijing Talks - 2004-08-12

Japan and North Korea have wrapped up talks in Beijing, with no apparent progress on the issue of Japanese abductees. The issue is a stumbling block toward establishing diplomatic ties.

A Japanese Embassy spokesman in Beijing says Tokyo's delegates listened to Pyongyang's explanation about the 10 Japanese believed kidnapped by North Korea to train spies decades ago.

However, he did not give details.

He said the Japanese delegation returned to Tokyo on Thursday to consider the next move.

Pyongyang has said eight of the 10 are dead, but has not acknowledged taking the other two.

The issue clouds efforts to normalize ties between the two countries.

Kim Choong Nam at the East-West Center in the United States says the issue of security is Japan's top priority. And that means convincing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs.

"Without the resolution of the nuclear issue, normalization is constrained," he said.

Japan, the United States, South Korea, China and Russia have been negotiating with the North on the weapons issue.