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Japan and North Korea agree to hold government talks for the first time since 2012

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TOKYO — Japan and North Korea will resume government-to-government negotiations later this month for the first time since November 2012.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said Friday that the two countries have agreed to meet in Beijing on March 30-31.

The agreement was reached after informal talks this week between Japanese and North Korean Foreign Ministry officials in Shenyang, China. The officials were attending a meeting of the two countries' Red Cross societies.

The ministry said the Japanese official involved in the negotiations would be Junichi Ihara, director-general for Asian and Oceanic Affairs

Japan and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations. They held talks in 2012 during a brief warming of relations, but those ended after North Korea launched a rocket in December of that year.

A major issue for Japan is the fate of at least a dozen Japanese people who it says were abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

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