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Japan 'regrets' US decision to strip North Korea from terror list

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Latest update : 2008-10-12

Japan called Washington's decision to remove North Korea from its list of countries sponsoring terrorism "regrettable". Japan has been relentlessly pressing Pyongyang for news of its civilians kidnapped in the 1970s.

Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said a US decision to remove North Korea from a terrorism blacklist was "extremely regrettable," Japanese media reported Sunday.
  
"It's extremely regrettable, and I believe abductions amount to terrorist acts," Nakagawa told Japanese reporters in Washington at the Group of Seven meeting of finance ministers.
  
The State Department announced Saturday the United States had removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, saying an agreement had been reached on steps to verify Pyongyang's nuclear disarmament.
  
Japan has urged ally the United States not to delist North Korea, pressing first for more information on the fate of Japanese civilians kidnapped by the North in the 1970s and 1980s to train the hardline regime's spies.
  
Japan has taken the hardest line in the six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programmes, negotiations that also involve the two Koreas, Russia and host China.
  
Ahead of the announcement on delisting, US President George W. Bush reassured Prime Minister Taro Aso in a telephone call that Washington will support Japan's position on the abduction issue, Japan's foreign ministry said.
  
Bush and Aso agreed during the 10-minute conversation on continued cooperation on disarming North Korea and on efforts to seek the fate of the Japanese civilians abducted by Pyongyang agents, the ministry statement said.
  
The deal announced by the State Department was aimed at reviving the six-party disarmament negotiations that were threatened with collapse just months before US President George W. Bush leaves office on January 20.
  
Angered at the US refusal to remove it from the blacklist, North Korea in the last few weeks moved toward restarting its nuclear reactor and other operations at Yongbyon.
  
Pyongyang had expected to be struck from the list weeks after it submitted a declaration in June of its nuclear activities as part of an historic 2007 deal, but Washington had insisted it agree to a verification regime first.

Date created : 2008-10-12

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