A North Korean diplomat says his country will swiftly conduct a fresh investigation into the whereabouts of abductees and other Japanese nationals missing in the North.
Song Il Ho, North Korea's envoy for talks with Japan, spoke to reporters on Thursday at an airport in Beijing.
His remarks come after the Japanese government announced its decision to lift some of its sanctions against the North. Japan wants to receive the investigation results within a year.
Song said that after he returns, the North will announce the steps it intends to take based on the agreement reached with Japan in May.
He hinted that Pyongyang will launch its investigation committee on Friday.
He noted that his government will be mindful of Japan's request for the probe to be concluded within a year. He said the panel will carry out the investigation swiftly and report its findings at an early date.
Meanwhile in Pyongyang, a North Korean government official told NHK that the probe should be carried out steadily, as the investigation panel involves the National Defense Commission, the North's top state organ.
The official said that both sides have begun to take action, as Japan has decided to lift some of its sanctions against the North. The official added that the 2 countries will continue talks on a wider range of issues.
Jul. 3, 2014 - Updated 10:13 UTC