DATE=4/7/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=NORTH KOREA - JAPAN (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-261038 BYLINE=HYUN-SUNG KHANG DATELINE=SEOUL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Talks aimed at establishing diplomatic relations between North Korea and Japan have ended without an agreement. But Hyun-Sung Khang reports from Seoul, both sides have expressed optimism and promised to meet again next month. TEXT: These initial discussions in Pyongyang between Japan and North Korea were not expected to produce immediate results. There were too many points of strong disagreement. But a joint news release issued Friday, described the talks as "sincere" and confirmed that the two countries will meet in Tokyo next month to continue discussions on how to - in the words of the release: "liquidate the past" and improve relations. North Korea's chief negotiator compared the diplomatic encounter to a mountain hike. He was quoted as saying that the two countries have to climb to the summit of the mountain, but they are still at its foot. Pyongyang's vice foreign minister also reiterated his country's position that Japan must apologize and make compensation for its colonial rule of the Korean peninsula, from 1910 to 1945. For his part, the Japanese representative to the negotiations said his country's new cabinet under Yoshiro Mori, is determined to improve relations between the two countries. However Tokyo is insisting that the issue of 10 Japanese nationals, thought to have been kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, must be resolved before there can be normalization of relations between the two countries. Japan also wants a pledge that North Korea will halt its missile program. In 1998 officials in Tokyo were infuriated by Pyongyang's launch of a medium-range ballistic missile over Japan. The two countries only agreed to resume talks after North Korea pledged to suspend further missile tests and said it would look for, what it described as "missing citizens" from Japan. The last rapprochement talks between the two countries collapsed more than seven years ago, after Tokyo raised the kidnapping issue and protested against Pyongyang's suspected nuclear arms program. Following next month's meeting in Tokyo, there is expected to be yet another session in Beijing later this year. (SIGNED) NEB/HSK/FC/PLM 07-Apr-2000 05:54 AM EDT (07-Apr-2000 0954 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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