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Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda on Tuesday condemned North Korea’s declaration that Japan would be barred from participating in the next round of six-way talks over Pyongyang’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

“It is North Korea’s selfish claim,” Fukuda remarked during an interview with a group of media organizations on Tuesday evening.

In stating his case, the government’s top spokesman cited Pyongyang’s vague pledge to hold another round of six-nation talks during the first round of negotiations in August.

“North Korea has a responsibility to keep (its word) and solve its nuclear crisis and the abduction issues peacefully and diplomatically,” Fukuda said.

The six nations that met in Beijing to discuss the nuclear standoff were Japan, South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and North Korea.

Some of the participating countries have voiced hope that the next round of talks may be held in November, though no specific date has been set.

“The next round of talks should be scheduled as soon as possible,” Fukuda said.

On the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents, Fukuda said Japan is contacting Pyongyang via diplomatic channels in order to arrange a bilateral meeting.

He added that nothing concrete has yet been decided on this score.

The government asserts that the North Korean-born children of five repatriated Japanese abductees, along with the American husband of one of them, should be allowed to come to Japan.

It has also urged Pyongyang to clarify the whereabouts of 10 missing Japanese, including individuals whom Pyongyang claims died after being abducted by its agents.

Fukuda stressed, however, that responding to these two priority demands would not put an end to the abduction issue. “If there are allegations (of other abduction cases), we will have to keep talking with North Korea and clear any suspicions,” he said.

It has been alleged by some that more than 100 other Japanese may have been abducted by North Korea.

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