Japan firm on abduction issue

June 26, 2008 at 6:57 AM

TOKYO, June 26 (UPI) -- Japan remained firm Thursday on the issue of the abduction of its nationals by North Korea.

Japanese Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said Japn's stand won't change even if the United States removes North Korea from its list of terrorism-sponsoring countries, Kyodo news reported.

The abduction issue, which relates to Japan's claim that North Korea hasn't accounted for 12 kidnapped nationals, has gained momentum as the six-party talks on North Korea's denuclearization appeared set to resume in Beijing after Pyongyang submitted its declaration disclosing all of its nuclear activities.

Machimura said Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and U.S. President George Bush in a telephone conversation Wednesday agreed to cooperate closely on the North Korean nuclear as well as the abduction issue.

"I believe there will be no changes in the efforts (by the United States on the abduction issue) toward the North just because it were to lift the designation (of Pyongyang) as a state sponsor of terrorism," Machimura said, Kyodo reported.

The North Korean declaration must be acceptable to all the six parties who also include Russia, China and South Korea. After that the United States is expected to begin steps to remove North Korea from its list of terrorism sponsoring states as demanded by Pyongyang.

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