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N.Korean envoy urges Japan to lift ban on ship

A North Korean diplomat says he will ask Japan to lift its ban on port calls by a North Korean cargo-passenger ship.

Song Il Ho is the North's envoy for normalizing relations with Japan. He led a North Korean delegation in talks with Japanese officials.

Song told reporters on Friday in Pyongyang that a special committee has been launched to investigate the whereabouts of missing Japanese.

He said the committee has a special mandate from the North's top organ, the National Defense Commission, to investigate all institutions. He said it will work effectively.

Song said Japan's decision to lift some of its sanctions against the North is an implementation of an agreement that the 2 countries reached in Stockholm in May. He added that the outcome was expected.

On the continuing ban on port calls by the ship, the Mangyongbong, Song said he hopes it can enter Japan like before.

Song also expressed hope that Japan will lift its ban on trade between the 2 countries.

Jul. 4, 2014 - Updated 10:54 UTC