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Japan hopes that U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s visit to North Korea that began Monday will have a good effect on Tokyo’s talks on normalizing ties with Pyongyang, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hidenao Nakagawa said.

“We welcome the continuation of positive developments between the U.S. and North Korea,” Nakagawa said at a news conference. “We hope it will have a good impact on Japan’s negotiations with North Korea.”

Japan and North Korea are scheduled to hold their next round of negotiations on normalizing diplomatic ties later this month in Beijing.

Albright, who arrived in Pyongyang on Monday morning, told Foreign Minister Yohei Kono in a telephone conversation Sunday that she will keep Japan’s concerns in mind in her talks with North Korean officials.

Foreign Ministry officials said Kono conveyed Japan’s concerns about North Korea, including the alleged abduction of Japanese and the North’s missile program.

She also said she will brief Kono on her trip at a three-way meeting of the foreign ministers of the United States, Japan and South Korea in Seoul on Wednesday.

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