North Korea has established a team to negotiate with Japan, which itself is seeking direct talks to settle various issues, sources familiar with bilateral relations have said.

The negotiating team was apparently established sometime between April and the historic U.S.-North Korea summit on June 12, reflecting a move by Pyongyang to explore dialogue with Tokyo in the midst of a rapid change in the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea judged earlier this year that mending ties with Japan would become a future task if it moves to improve ties with the United States, South Korea and China, the sources said Friday.