WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The U.S. point man on North Korea policy on Monday told relatives of Japanese abducted by North Korea that the United States has no immediate plan to tighten financial and other sanctions against Pyongyang.

After talks with Stephen Bosworth at the State Department, Japanese participants said the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy turned down their call for sanctions to help resolve the abduction issue.

Bosworth is “a bit apart in thought from us,” Shigeo Iizuka, chairman of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, told reporters.

Iizuka is leading the Japanese group visiting Washington to lobby for support on the abduction issue.

His younger sister, Yaeko Taguchi, was abducted by North Korean agents in 1978, when she was 22.

One of the participants said the group called on the U.S. to tighten financial and other sanctions against North Korea, as well as to put the reclusive country back on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Bosworth was quoted as saying Washington has no intention at this moment of imposing sanctions because they are not expected to produce any change in Pyongyang’s behavior.

But the U.S. special representative was quoted as giving assurances that the U.S. is sympathetic about the abduction issue and is willing to work in concert toward its resolution.

“In fighting North Korea for the past 10-odd years, we have said dialogue without pressure will lead to nothing,” said Teruaki Masumoto, secretary general of Iizuka’s association.

Masumoto, whose sister, Rumiko, was also abducted by North Korea in 1978, was hopeful Japan and the U.S., together with South Korea, will jointly take a resolute stance toward Pyongyang.

Another participant said that given Bosworth’s reluctance to impose sanctions, he wants Washington to recognize that the abduction issue is a human rights issue.

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