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Japan, N.Korea discuss abduction issue

Japan's chief negotiator in the talks with North Korea says the 2 sides discussed a special panel tasked with investigating the fate of abductees and other Japanese nationals in the North.

Officials from the 2 governments met in Beijing on Tuesday.

In a meeting in Stockholm in May, North Korea promised to launch a special panel for a full investigation into all missing Japanese nationals in the North. They include those recognized by Japan's government as abductees; missing persons who may have been abducted; and women who went to North Korea decades ago as the wives of North Koreans.

Japan's chief negotiator Junichi Ihara, who heads the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told reporters that the North Korean side provided detailed explanations of the panel's makeup and authority. He said the Japanese side intensively questioned the other side to determine if the panel is authorized to investigate all North Korean bodies.

Ihara said he will return to Japan and report the North Korean explanations to government leaders. He said he thinks the government will check the explanations before making an overall decision on what action to take.

Ihara also said the Japanese side protested North Korea's firing of ballistic missiles on Sunday in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

North Korea's chief negotiator, Song Il Ho, defended the launches. The North's envoy for normalizing ties with Japan said his country does not recognize the resolutions.

Jul. 1, 2014 - Updated 12:12 UTC