Tokyo eyes informal six-way talks on N Korea: reports

Tokyo eyes informal six-way talks on N Korea: reports
North Korea, which has not registered a single suspected case of Ebola, closed its borders to foreign tourists on October 24.

TOKYO - Japan has sounded out other members of long-stalled talks about North Korea's nuclear programme about holding an informal meeting in Tokyo possibly by the end of June, reports said Sunday.

Japan hopes to bring together envoys from the six states involved when the next round of the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue, hosted by a US research institute, is held in Tokyo, Kyodo News agency said.

The Sankei Shimbun newspaper, citing government sources, also reported that Tokyo wants to host a "preliminary" meeting aimed at restarting the formal talks.

The talks, which group North and South Korea, Japan, the United States, China and Russia, were aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons in return for economic and diplomatic benefits and security guarantees.

But they have not been held since December 2008. In April 2009 the North, in an angry response to UN criticism of its failed satellite launch, announced it was quitting the forum and would restart its nuclear programme.

It remains uncertain whether such an informal meeting can be held since Japan has not heard from North Korea and the United States appears reluctant to support the proposal, Kyodo said.

Japan also hopes to use any informal meeting to press the North to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by the communist state in the 1970s and 1980s, the Sankei said.

The Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue, sponsored by the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, is an unofficial forum for government officials and academics from the six countries to discuss regional security and cooperation.

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