Japan and North Korea have agreed to hold senior working-level talks from Thursday on "a wide range of issues" in Ulan Bator, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura announced.

"In the talks, we'll discuss a wide range of issues of interest to both sides," Fujimura told reporters Friday, adding, "I want to pin my hopes on them" since the discussions with Pyongyang will be held at the highest level in years.

The official Korean Central News Agency also reported the scheduled talks Friday, saying officials will discuss "issues for the improvement of the bilateral relations." Mongolia was chosen as the venue for the two-day meeting because security is tight in Beijing, which is in the midst of a once-in-a-decade leadership transition.