U.S. won’t forget abduction issue: Hill

by Reiji Yoshida

During a brief visit to Tokyo on Wednesday, the top U.S. negotiator with Pyongyang avoided commenting on what conditions the U.S. would consider in removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, after meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Kenichiro Sasae, at the Foreign Ministry, only confirmed the importance of Japan-U.S. coordination in the upcoming six-party talks on denuclearization.

The families of Japanese abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and ’80s have insisted that the U.S. not delist North Korea until all of the abductees have been returned by the North.

“What I can promise you is that we are working very hard to seek resolution of this issue, and to deal with this as a matter of great concern,” Hill said of the abduction issue.

Pyongyang has strongly demanded that the U.S. remove it from the list of terrorist-sponsoring states. From the U.S. point of view, the option of delisting the North is considered a powerful bargaining tool.

Hill came to Japan to demonstrate the close cooperation between Tokyo and Washington, which is a usual step preceding the six-party talks.

“We have agreed that it’s more important than ever for the U.S. and Japan to act in coordination,” Sasae told reporters.