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Pyongyang wanted to lure Soga back, says Jenkins

North Korea wanted to use a planned reunion in Beijing between Charles Jenkins and his wife, repatriated abductee Hitomi Soga, to lure Soga back to Pyongyang, Jenkins has reportedly told Japanese officials.

Government sources on Tuesday quoted Jenkins, 64, as saying that the North Korean government had promised that if he succeeded in bringing Soga back to Pyongyang, the family would be given a luxury, chauffeur-driven car, increased food rations and other benefits.

The alleged U.S. Army deserter also said that the North had strongly urged him to persuade Soga to return. He stated that Pyongyang had planned to send a slew of officials to Beijing to accompany him.

Jenkins told Japanese officials in Jakarta, where the Soga family reunion eventually took place, of the plans to take Soga back to Pyongyang from Beijing on a North Korean plane, the sources said.

It is not known how Soga could have been flown out of China against her wishes.

The Chinese capital was initially suggested as a possible candidate site for the reunion, with Jenkins having refused to come to Japan with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi following his May 22 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang.

But with Soga, 45, expressing reluctance toward holding the reunion in Beijing, where she believed North Korea could impose significant influence, Jakarta was chosen as the venue.

Soga was reunited with Jenkins and their daughters Mika, 21, and Belinda, 19, in the Indonesian capital on July 9. The family had been separated since Soga returned to Japan from North Korea in October 2002.

The family arrived in Tokyo on July 18 for Jenkins to receive medical treatment.

Fact-finding gambit

The government may try to send a fact-finding team to North Korea to look into the fates of 10 missing citizens whom it believes were abducted, if it finds Pyongyang’s promised investigation into the matter unsatisfactory, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said Tuesday.

“We need to examine the results to be reported in any case,” Hosoda said, adding there is a “high possibility” such a mission will be necessary.

“The issue of the 10 people will be settled if all are repatriated, but if the other side presents results other than that, we need to advance discussions on all unresolved issues,” he said.

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