TOKYO – North Korea (search) took another swipe at Tokyo on Saturday, saying it "feels no need" to sit down directly with Japan (search) at upcoming nuclear talks because the country is insisting on discussing the North's past abduction of Japanese citizens.
The North's state-run newspaper, Minju Joson, said in an editorial that it "feels no need to sit face-to-face with Japan," and criticized Tokyo's intention to raise the abduction issue as a plan "to meet its own interests."
It was not clear from the editorial, carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, whether the North was refusing to attend the talks set to open Tuesday in Beijing if they include Japan — or if it was saying it did not want to meet with Japanese officials on the sidelines of the talks, as Tokyo has suggested.
On Sunday morning, the North's delegation in Beijing met with officials from South Korea (search), China's official Xinhua News Agency said. It did not provide any other details.
China has hosted three rounds of inconclusive six-country talks on North Korea's nuclear program since 2003. The negotiations involve Japan, China, the two Koreas, the United States and Russia.
"If the parties concerned are to bring into bloom a beautiful flower called the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, they should root out the poisonous plant harmful to it," the newspaper said, blaming Japan for the lack of progress in the talks' previous rounds.
In Tokyo on Thursday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's spokesman, Yu Kameoka, said Japan will press the abduction issue despite the North's objections. "It may be Japan has been saying things North Korea is not so happy to hear," Kameoka said. "But we will bring up the kidnapping issue."
North Korea has admitted kidnapping 13 Japanese in the 1970s and '80s. In 2002 it allowed five to return to Japan, saying the other eight have died. Japan has demanded proof of those deaths, as well as information on other missing Japanese believed to have been abducted by the North.