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Koizumi to Visit NK Next Month

Posted August. 30, 2002 22:02,   


The Japanese government announced yesterday that its Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro would visit North Korea on Sep 17 to hold a summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong-il. Since this is the first time Japanese premier visits North Korea for a summit, the two countries efforts to normalize diplomatic ties are expected to pick up steam.

Japan`s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said that Prime Minister Koizumi will visit Pyeongyang on Sep 17 and hold summit talks with Kim Jong-il. The two countries have contacted through official and unofficial channels to discuss ways to normalize their diplomatic ties since a year ago. We have notified Korea, the US, China and Russia of this visit."

It is said that Japanese premier Koizumi suggested his visit to the North and that was accepted by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il .

At the North-Japan foreign ministers` talks held on the 25th in Pyeongyang, a high-ranking official of Japan`s Foreign Ministry delivered Koizumi`s hope to visit North Korea to a North Korean official.

Koizumi said at a press conference, "I`d like to meet with North Korea leader Kim to promote the relations with the North. First, we will discuss whether both countries would resume negotiations to normalize diplomatic relations. I will also take up issue with North Korea`s abduction of Japanese people since it is very important matter for the safety of the Japanese."

Japan and North Korea began discussing normalization of their ties in 1990, but the negotiation process has been in the doldrums since the 11th plenary meeting for normalization of ties held in Beijing in October 2000.

Koizumi said, "South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and US President Bush have expressed strong support for my visit to North Korea. I will closely coordinate with South Korea and the US to seriously push ahead with the propose summit talks."

Young-Ee Lee yes202@donga.com