TOKYO, March 29 (UPI) -- Japan is working on a plan to restart the thwarted six-party talks through an informal meeting in Tokyo at the end of June that will involve China, North and South Korea, Russia and the United States.
Kyodo reported a source said on Saturday the Japanese government is working on establishing a gathering during the upcoming Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue that can do the work of a regular summit among the six countries that began in 2003 but ended in 2009, when North Korea refused to end its nuclear enrichment program.
Japan's initiative reflects an ongoing priority for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who seeks an answer to the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.
Although Pyongyang launched an investigation committee into the problem and Japan has eliminated some of its economic sanctions against North Korea, no progress has been made into the fact-finding mission. Japan may also offer bilateral talks, sources told Kyodo.
On Sunday, Japan had yet to hear a response from North Korea on its proposal to restart a meeting of officials that could reestablish dialogue, and the U.S. was hesitant to support the idea, a source told Kyodo.
In February the Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said the U.S. shares the same policy as the five parties of the Six-Party Process, but the conversation should focus on North Korea's nuclear program.
Sherman has also said the U.S. is open to bilateral talks with North Korea, but denuclearization must be the center of dialogue.