• Kyodo

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Japan and North Korea held informal talks earlier this month in China to discuss ways of making progress on the abduction issue, sources said Thursday.

In the meeting involving diplomats from the two countries, Japan is believed to have urged North Korea to reinvestigate the Japanese citizens Pyongyang’s agents abducted in the 1970s and 1980s, in exchange for a stage-by-stage lifting of unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang.

North Korea appears to have expressed readiness to reinvestigate the abductees on the condition that Japan eases sanctions and allows it to continue using its de facto embassy in Tokyo, the sources said.

The Tokyo District Court on March 24 authorized the sale of the headquarters site and building of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), which was put up for auction because of unpaid debts.

Informed sources said the two countries appear to have held informal talks on Saturday and Sunday. It was not immediately known who took part in the meeting.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denied such talks had taken place.

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