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Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda played down Monday the significance of unofficial talks between two Liberal Democratic Party members and North Korea last week, saying it will not affect official negotiations over Pyongyang’s abductions of Japanese.

“Our policy is that (channels) regarding negotiations on this issue will be unified with those of the government,” Fukuda said during his daily news conference. “I don’t think (the unofficial talks) will have any effect on this.”

Taku Yamasaki, a former lawmaker and ex-LDP vice president, and Lower House member Katsuei Hirasawa made a surprise visit to China for talks with senior North Korean government officials over the abduction issue.

The two LDP members said they believe government-to-government talks between the two countries will be resumed by the end of this month.

But Fukuda said Monday the two countries have already agreed to resume official discussions.

The date of the talks’ resumption, however, has not yet been agreed to.

Fukuda said the government had not been briefed on the content of the talks in China. He said Yamasaki will probably report directly to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

LDP Secretary General Shinzo Abe said it is important that the government act as one in dealing with North Korea so as not to let Pyongyang take advantage of any inner divisions among policymakers.

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