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Japan and North Korea will probably agree to resume normalization talks when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang on Sept. 17, government sources said Thursday.

Tokyo is reportedly prepared to go back to the negotiating table if there is a chance of securing a “comprehensive solution” for two major sticking points.

These issues are the whereabouts of missing Japanese nationals believed to have been abducted by North Korean agents, along with Pyongyang’s demands for compensation over Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945.

In the wake of backroom bilateral talks through Thursday, Japanese officials strongly believe that Pyongyang will provide Tokyo with information on some of the abductees in question, according to informed sources.

At the same time, North Korea appears willing to settle the compensation issue based on Japan’s economic assistance proposal, they added.

Koizumi met with previous leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence on Thursday. He reportedly voiced confidence that the upcoming summit will bear fruit.

“I (indirectly) asked (the North Korean side) whether they could talk to me, given how strongly I’ve spoken (about the abduction issue,” Koizumi was quoted as saying by one participant at the meeting. “The reply was, ‘That’s fine’, so I’m sure that the discussions will be based on this position.”

Some within the government said, however, that they still harbor doubts over the potential success of the upcoming meeting. , stating that many uncertainties may arise when dealing with a “unique” country such as North Korea.

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