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Japan Officials Leave for N. Korea

September 2, 2002

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TOKYO (AP) _ A group of 14 Japanese government officials left for North Korea’s capital on Monday to prepare for the unprecedented summit of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The group will establish an office in Pyongyang before Koizumi’s arrival and will remain in North Korea until the end of the talks on Sept. 17, according to a Foreign Ministry press release.

Five officials from the Foreign Ministry, seven officials from the Defense Agency and one each from Japanese embassies in China and South Korea will take part in the preparations.

Over the weekend, another group of high-level Japanese officials met in Beijing with their North Korean counterparts to prepare for the summit.

Koizumi’s visit will mark the first time that a Japanese prime minister has visited the reclusive nation. Japan, which ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony from 1910-1945, has had no diplomatic ties with the North since its creation in 1948.

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