• Kyodo

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Dennis Hastert, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has agreed to meet with the relatives of Japanese nationals who were abducted to North Korea, it was learned Friday.

Congressional sources said Hastert, an Illinois Republican, will meet the four relatives in Washington on Wednesday in a bid to show that the U.S. Congress is paying attention to the abduction issue.

Jim Leach, an Iowa Republican, will host an open-door meeting the same day for subcommittee members and the relatives, the sources said. Leach chairs the subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific under the House International Relations Committee.

The four Japanese will begin their five-day visit to Washington on Monday and will ask the U.S. government for help in resolving the abduction issue.

The Japanese Embassy is arranging meetings for the families with government officials, including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

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