• Kyodo

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Japan and North Korea confirmed Monday they will make efforts to settle contentious bilateral issues and normalize diplomatic ties in an appropriate manner based on a bilateral document signed in 2002 by the leaders of the two nations.

“The DPRK and Japan undertook to take steps to normalize their relations in accordance with the Pyongyang Declaration, on the basis of the settlement of unfortunate past and outstanding issues of concern,” said a joint statement adopted Monday at the six-party nuclear talks in Beijing.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.

Pyongyang also agreed to stop its nuclear arms development programs in exchange for energy aid.

The Pyongyang Declaration, signed in September 2002 by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, obliges the two nations to strive to normalize diplomatic ties by resolving outstanding issues.

Japan’s chief delegate, Kenichiro Sasae, told his counterparts during Monday’s plenary session of the talks that Japan welcomed the outcome and will “make utmost efforts” to normalize ties with Pyongyang by resolving the abduction, nuclear and missile development issues, and by settling an unfortunate past, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Sasae also said Japan will seek to reconvene bilateral talks with North Korea at an early date, the ministry said.

Japan and North Korea held diplomatic normalization talks in October 2002, but they have been suspended since then because of disputes over abductions of Japanese citizens allegedly carried out by the North in the 1970s and 1980s.

Bilateral talks aimed at resolving the abduction issue have been stalled since last November, due mainly to disagreements about the number abducted and their fates.

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