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Wednesday, 30 October, 2002, 13:22 GMT
Nuclear deadlock at Japan-N Korea talks
North Korean delegation chief Jong Thae-hwa (second from left) is escorted to his car after Wednesday's morning session
Both sides seem as far apart as before
North Korea and Japan have ended two days of talks aimed at normalising relations, without an agreement on Tokyo's demands for the North to halt its nuclear weapons program.

They also failed to agree on the permanent return of five Japanese abducted 24 years ago by North Korean spies.

During the talks Japan repeatedly said its demands on the two issues must be resolved before normalisation could go ahead.

But North Korea has insisted normalisation should come first.

"For us it is normalisation first as this would naturally lead to solving of the abduction and security problems," said North Korean official, Pak Ryong-yon.

He said the nuclear issue could only be resolved with the help of the United States.

"If the Americans will help our country and promise not to attack us we can solve the nuclear problem," said Mr Pak, as the talks in Malaysia ended.

Much to gain

Despite the lack of progress, the Japanese delegation said it would continue to negotiate with North Korea.

North Korea has suggested another round of talks at the end of November, but Japan has not yet formally accepted.

Both sides have much at stake. Impoverished North Korea badly needs the billions of dollars in Japanese aid that normalisation of ties would bring.


Megumi Yokota, a Japanese girl who was abducted by North Korean spies in 1977 and is reported to have died (AP photo)
Japan's missing
  • Eight Japanese said to be dead
  • Five still alive in North Korea
  • The survivors have children in N Korea
  • Kim Jong-il says he has punished the culprits
    See also:

  • And Japan wants its five kidnap victims to stay in Japan permanently and for their families in North Korea to join them.

    But on Wednesday, North Korea demanded that Japan return the abductees, who are currently in Japan for what was initially supposed to be a two-week visit.

    "Please send them back to North Korea as promised," Mr Pak said.

    The BBC's Jonathan Kent in Kuala Lumpur says that for Japan, the issue of its kidnapped nationals seemed to loom even larger than the nuclear programme.

    The entire Japanese delegation wore blue ribbons in solidarity with the families of the five kidnapping victims and eight others that North Korea says have died

    The head of the North Korea delegation, Jong Thae-hwa, said North Korea's main priority was getting an apology and compensation from Japan for its colonisation of the Korean peninsula from 1910-45.

    "Historically speaking, it is clear that Japan should apologise to the Korean people and compensate for our mental and physical suffering and damage," he said.

    The row on nuclear weapons stems from a US report earlier this month that North Korea had admitted to the programme when confronted with evidence, in contravention of an important 1994 accord..


    Nuclear tensions

    Inside North Korea

    Divided peninsula

    TALKING POINT
    See also:

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