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Japan, North Korea Meet for First Time in 4 Years

  • VOA News

Chinese police officers set up a cordon for journalists outside the gate to the Japanese Embassy ahead of talks between Japan and North Korea in Beijing, August 29, 2012.

Chinese police officers set up a cordon for journalists outside the gate to the Japanese Embassy ahead of talks between Japan and North Korea in Beijing, August 29, 2012.

Japan and North Korea have held their first talks in four years, in an effort to overcome decades of tension and mistrust.

Officials from the two countries met Wednesday at the Japanese embassy in Beijing.

The two sides do not have formal diplomatic relations.

The Japanese news agency Kyodo reports the talks focused mainly on the retrieval of the remains of Japanese people who died in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula during World War Two.

Japanese media also quote a member of the Japanese delegation as saying the talks were a "frank exchange of views" and will likely continue on Thursday.

Japan and North Korea have long been at odds due to disputes involving Pyongyang's nuclear program and Japan's claims that North Korea kidnapped Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

North Korea has admitted to abducting 13 Japanese nationals but said the issue has been resolved since it later allowed five of them to return home.

During the last meeting in Japan, in 2008, Pyongyang officials pledged to reinvestigate the abductions but did not follow through.

Japan suspects North Korea is still hiding survivors and has abducted more people than it admits.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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