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Japan and North Korea will probably not resume bilateral normalization talks before the end of November because the two sides remain at odds over several key issues, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda indicated Monday.

Given the result of informal talks held in Beijing between senior officials of the two governments over the weekend, Fukuda said it may be difficult to hold the next round of normalization negotiations soon.

Tokyo and Pyongyang remained far apart on key issues when they held the last round of talks Oct. 29 and 30 in Kuala Lumpur. While North Korean delegates proposed holding the next round in November, Japan has argued that more progress must be made on the abductions issue before setting the date for the talks.

Japan dispatched Hitoshi Tanaka, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, to Beijing on Saturday for unofficial talks with North Korean officials.

“Although Tanaka discussed a series of pending issues with his North Korean counterparts, a gap remains between the two sides,” Fukuda said.

Tokyo is urging Pyongyang to send the offspring of the five known surviving abductees, who returned to their homeland in mid-October, to Japan so they can reunite with their parents. Japan also wants the North to let the American husband of one of the freed abductees to be allowed to come to Japan.

On the other hand, North Korea has urged Japan to send back the five abductees to Pyongyang, as was initially agreed by the two governments.

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