Kawaguchi seeks N. Korea talks

Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi on Friday said she hopes she can hold a second bilateral meeting with her North Korean counterpart, Paek Nam Sun, on the sidelines of an Asian regional forum meeting planned for early July in Jakarta.

“We held Japan-North Korea (foreign ministerial) talks two years ago on the sidelines of an ARF meeting. I’m willing to meet” with Paek again, Kawaguchi said during a news conference. ARF stands for ASEAN Regional Forum.

But Kawaguchi said it is not certain that Paek will attend the Jakarta meeting.

If Kawaguchi and Paek meet, they are expected to discuss bilateral issues, including the search for 10 Japanese nationals Tokyo says North Korea abducted but who remain unaccounted for.

North Korea has said that eight of the 10 are dead and that it has no record of the two others ever being in the country. But the Japanese government and the abductees’ families are skeptical over these claims due to a lack of evidence.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il held a summit May 22 in Pyongyang.