Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Monday said he hoped his government before long would be able to conduct broad negotiations with North Korea on a number of long simmering issues such as the Stalinist state's nuclear and missile efforts, Kyodo News reported.
"(Japan) wants to launch full-fledged intergovernmental talks as soon as possible, with the two countries agreeing on what should be discussed," the Japanese leader said in remarks at a political party gathering.
"I will make utmost efforts to solve issues of (North Korea's) nuclear and missile development as well as [the North's kidnapping of Japanese citizens] based on the Pyongyang Declaration and improve bilateral ties," he said.
Noda spoke 10 years to the day after then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi traveled to North Korea.
Pyongyang and Tokyo late last month held their first formal bilateral discussions since 2008. The two sides decided to place matters of "mutual concern" on the docket for forthcoming meetings but they are still in disagreement on whether to address the kidnappings that occurred in past decades.
Meanwhile, U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy Glyn Davies on Tuesday is slated to meet in Washington with South Korea's senior atomic negotiator to the frozen six-nation talks aimed at achieving Pyongyang's permanent denuclearization, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
"During the visit, Lim [Sung-nam] will exchange views on the current situation in North Korea and recent developments in its nuclear issues with U.S. officials, and discuss ways for the two countries to work together," an unidentified South Korean Foreign Ministry official said.
The six-party talks encompass China, Japan, both Koreas, Russia, and the United States. The aid-for-denuclearization negotiations were last held in December 2008. Since that time, the North has made a number of advancements toward wielding a credible nuclear deterrent, including detonation of a second atomic device, unveiling of a uranium enrichment program, and speeding construction of a new light-water reactor.
Lim earlier in August met with his Chinese opposite, Wu Dawei. The two negotiators agreed to maintain a "close watch" on the status of North Korea's reactor work at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, according to South Korean officials. The International Atomic Energy Agency in a new report said Pyongyang had achieved "significant" gains in building the reactor, which could provide a cover for stockpiling of processed uranium or be used to produce weapon-grade plutonium.