Japan welcomes North Korea’s plan to dispatch a senior official to the United States next month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hidenao Nakagawa said Monday.

“We welcome it as a positive step that will contribute to the resolution of various issues concerning North Korea and a reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula,” Nakagawa told a news conference.

He said Washington informed Japan of the plan shortly before its announcement on Friday.

The U.S. announced that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il will send the nation’s No. 3 leader to Washington next month in a bid to deepen bilateral dialogue and normalize ties.

Cho Myong Nok, first vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, will visit the U.S. for four days from Oct. 9 and hold talks with President Bill Clinton, according to the announcement.

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