Japanese and N Korean foreign ministers talk about abductions, missiles

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 4:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 7:39pm

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said he and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong had informal talks during the regional security summit held in the Myanmese capital.

The meeting marked the highest level contact between Tokyo and Pyongyang since the two countries resumed intergovernmental talks on the abduction issue in March.

Kishida said he urged Pyongyang to conduct a thorough investigation into the abduction issue and to exercise restraint with regard to further missile launches.

Kishida said he told Ri about "Japan's views on the probe by the [North's] special investigation committee [on the abduction issue], and the missile and nuclear issues". Kishida declined to reveal further details.

Ri stated North Korea's positions, Kishida said, without elaborating. Ri, who became foreign minister in April, is seen as an aide to leader Kim Jong-un.

A former ambassador to Switzerland, Ri is believed to have served as a guardian of Kim when he studied in the European country in the 1990s.

On July 4, Japan lifted some of its unilateral sanctions on North Korea in return for the launch of the new round of investigations into Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s and other missing Japanese suspected to have been abducted. The special investigation committee is headed by So Tae-ha, counsellor for security at the National Defence Commission who concurrently serves as a vice minister of state security.

North Korea is expected to make a first report on the reinvestigation as early as in the second week of September.