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North Korea has warned it may walk away from normalization negotiations with Japan if Tokyo continues raising the issue of alleged abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents.

In an editorial carried by the (North) Korean Central News Agency and monitored in Tokyo on Sunday, Pyongyang’s official newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, stated North Korea’s stance that it has nothing to do with the alleged abductions.

The editorial was in response to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori’s remark Saturday that Japan will not normalize diplomatic relations with North Korea until the cases are solved.

Mori made the remark during a meeting with the families of Japanese nationals suspected of having been abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

“The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) has no intention of opening diplomatic relations with Japan while allowing its self-respect and dignity to be impaired,” the editorial said.

“If Japan sets the nonexistent issue of suspected abductions as a precondition for the establishment of Japan-DPRK diplomatic relations, the DPRK will walk away,” the editorial said.

The issue is one of the main stumbling blocks in negotiations between the two countries on establishing diplomatic relations.

Japanese police suspect at least 10 Japanese nationals were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. Pyongyang has denied the allegations but has promised to search for them as “missing persons.”

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