The Social Democratic Party will to try to send delegations to North Korea as early as April, SDP officials said Thursday.

Following the decision, the party visited the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun) and told officials that it hopes to send a suprapartisan delegation led by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama sometime after nationwide elections April 11.

After the Murayama delegation, the SDP, who has maintained a longtime friendly relationship with the (North) Korean Workers’ Party, also plans to send a group of its party members to North Korea, according to the party.

Chongryun officials promised to convey the party’s plan to the North Korean government. “The environment (for visiting North Korea) is beginning to be formed,” Murayama said, referring to the recent agreement between the U.S. and North Korea over U.S. inspections of North Korean nuclear facilities.

Murayama also said that moves to take concerted actions toward North Korea picked up among neighboring countries including Japan, such as last week’s tour by William Perry, U.S. policy coordinator for North Korea, to Japan and other Asian countries, and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi’s scheduled visit to South Korea later this week. “What is necessary is to put both sides on a negotiation table, and to achieve that goal, we shouldn’t push North Korea too hard,” Murayama said.

Commenting on the planned Murayama delegation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka told a news conference that Murayama should make efforts to obtain certain results as long as he makes a visit. “Before going to the country, certain conditions should be fulfilled and it is necessary to make the visit fruitful one if he is going,” Nonaka said.

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