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Normalization Talks Begin Between N Korea, Japan
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Following a dispute over the "abduction of Japanese citizens", the first diplomatic talks between Japan and North Korea in over a year were brought back from the brink on Wednesday evening.

The spat overshadowed the talks, contrasting with the positive note emanating from a meeting between US and North Korean officials on Monday in New York.

The two rounds of talks happened following the start of a six-party deal which would see North Korea cease pursuing a nuclear program in exchange for aid and diplomatic recognition.

Japanese delegation head Koichi Haraguchi announced to gathered press that the meeting at the North Korean embassy in Hanoi would focus on the abductions and normalizing diplomatic ties.

Haraguchi's statement followed reports from a Japanese diplomat that an afternoon meeting had crumbled on Wednesday following the North Korea delegation being angered by discussion on "abductions of Japanese citizens" in the 1970s and 80s.

The current talks are part of the agreement reached last month between North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Russia, Japan and China as they vie to free the Korean Peninsula from any nuclear weaponry.

The Hanoi talks are a corner stone of the five sets of working-group meetings this week.

The talks began with a feeling of hopefulness, with Haraguchi confirming that Japan will work towards normalizing ties by resolving disputes arousing from Japan's warmongering past, the aforementioned abductions and North Korea's weapons programs.

His counterpart Song Il-ho also pledged to resolve the nuclear dispute, and would be eager to normalize ties should Japan atone for its colonization of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945.

(China Daily via agencies March 8, 2007)

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