BEIJING – An adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks Wednesday in Pyongyang with a senior official of North Korea’s ruling party, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported.
Details of the meeting between Isao Iijima and Kim Yong Il, a secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, were not immediately known. The meeting was announced with just a single-paragraph dispatch by the state-controlled agency.
The two officials are believed to have discussed ways to address North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, an important issue in Japan.
Along with Kim, Iijima was expected to hold talks with Song Il Ho, ambassador for talks to normalize relations with Japan, and other officials during his unannounced visit to North Korea that began Tuesday.
Iijima plans to stay in Pyongyang until Friday, according to an informed source.
Depending on the progress of the talks, Iijima could extend his stay, the source said.
Asked about Iijima’s trip, the U.S. point man on North Korea declined to comment.
Glyn Davies, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, said after a series of meetings with Chinese officials in Beijing that he spoke with a senior Japanese official earlier Wednesday and that he was given “a little bit of information” about it.
“But for the most part, I will . . . I think . . . reserve any comment on it until I have a chance to go to Tokyo, talk to officials there. And then perhaps it will make sense for me to say a word or two about it,” Davies told journalists.
Iijima was a top aide to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi when he made historic visits to Pyongyang for talks with leader Kim Jong Il in September 2002 and May 2004.
Japan recognizes 17 nationals, including five who were repatriated in October 2002, as having been abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s. The issue remains a key obstacle to normalizing relations between the two countries.