Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mongolian pres. eyes Japan visit in July, Abe to discuss abduction

Japan and Mongolia are in talks on setting up a meeting between their leaders in late July in Tokyo, Japanese government officials said Monday.

If realized, it will be Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj's second visit to Japan this year following one in April, as Tokyo aims to strengthen relations with Ulan Bator in a bid to resolve the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals.

Mongolia, unlike Japan, has diplomatic ties with North Korea.

Abe plans to explain to Elbegdorj about the agreement reached between Tokyo and Pyongyang during recent intergovernmental talks in Stockholm to reinvestigate the fate of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, the officials said.

Mongolia acted as a go-between for Japan and North Korea to materialize the first-ever meeting in Ulan Bator in March between the parents of Megumi Yokota, a symbolic figure among abduction victims, and her daughter, who lives in North Korea.

Yokota went missing on her way home from school in 1977 when she was 13. In 2002, Pyongyang admitted to having abducted Japanese to North Korea, including Yokota, who it says committed suicide in 1994 after giving birth to a daughter.

Japan is looking for further cooperation from Mongolia regarding the abduction issue as it believes in the need of international calls for positive action by North Korea in its reinvestigation.

During Elbegdorj's upcoming visit, Japan and Mongolia are also expected to agree to accelerate talks toward an early conclusion of their free trade agreement, according to the officials.

The Mongolian president is considering visiting Japan to attend a business seminar to be held jointly by the country's government and the Japan Business Federation, Japan's most powerful business lobby known as Keidanren, on July 22 in Tokyo, the officials said.


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