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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 
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 
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)
07-Apr-2000 05:54 AM EDT (07-Apr-2000 0954 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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