BEIJING – North Korea will accept a fact-finding team from Japan to investigate the whereabouts of 10 missing people who Tokyo believes were abducted, a North Korean official said Saturday.
Song Il Ho, vice director of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s Asian Affairs Department, made the remarks at Beijing International Airport on his way back to Pyongyang. He did not comment on when North Korea will accept such a mission from Japan.
Song headed the North Korean delegation during working-level talks the two countries held earlier this week in Beijing on the abduction issue. Pyongyang has acknowledged its agents abducted eight of the Japanese between 1977 and 1983. But it says they are now dead, a claim Japan doubts.
The two-day talks ended without a breakthrough as North Korea provided no new information on the 10 Japanese. Japan proposed sending a fact-finding mission during the discussions.
Song told reporters at the airport that North Korea will continue reinvestigating the missing Japanese. But he suggested the probe is facing difficulties as the abductions took place a long time ago.