N. Korea, Japan open first high-level talks since Nov. 2012Updated: 2014-03-31 03:16:17 (KST)
North Korea and Japan held their first government-to-government talks in more than a year inside the North Korean embassy in Beijing on Sunday.
On the first day of the two-day talks, the Japanese delegation led by Junichi Ihara , chief of the Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau at Japan's foreign ministry called for the repatriation of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and '80s.
The North Korean delegation is being led by Song Il-ho , its ambassador for handling relations with Japan.
He's asking for an easing of economic sanctions that were imposed by Japan after the North fired long-range ballistic missiles in 2006.
Tokyo had earlier stated that it would be willing to gradually ease sanctions if Pyongyang demonstrates a sincere attempt to solve the repatriation issue.
But they'll first have to come to an agreement on the figures.
Japan says 17 Japanese nationals were adbucted by North Korea and that only five have been allowed to return to Japan, leaving a dozen unaccounted for.
North Korea says that four of the 12 individuals never set foot in the North, and that the other eight have since passed away.
The most recent round of talks came in November 2012, but were halted after the North conducted missile tests.
The two sides are expected to wrap up their two days of talks on Monday in the Japanese embassy in Beijing.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.
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