- The Washington Times - Monday, September 16, 2002

TOKYO (AP) North Korea will agree to freeze missile tests and Tokyo will apologize for its actions in World War II when Japan's prime minister makes an unprecedented trip to the communist nation, a Japanese newspaper reported yesterday.
Details of the agreement will be completed at a meeting tomorrow, the Mainichi Shimbun said.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will be the first Japanese prime minister to visit North Korea and meet with its leader, Kim Jong-Il.
Mr. Koizumi and Mr. Kim are also expected to agree to resume talks on normalizing diplomatic relations, the newspaper said.
Several thorny issues have prevented Japan and North Korea from normalizing relations.
Japan accuses Pyongyang of developing nuclear weapons and claims that North Korean agents abducted at least 11 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to help train spies. A tentative agreement was also made to mention the North's "regret" about the suspected kidnappings, Mainichi said.
North Korea has denied the Japanese claims and says it is searching for the missing group. Pyongyang is expected to provide information on some of the 11 Japanese, Mainichi said.
Pyongyang wants Japan to atone for its militarist past and its 1910-45 occupation of the Korean Peninsula.
After meeting with top officials to negotiate final details, Mr. Koizumi said yesterday that security and the abduction issue will take top billing on tomorrow's agenda. "Normalization talks will not advance if the abduction problem is shelved," he said.
Many analysts believe Mr. Koizumi is staking his political future on this trip. Since the surprise announcement of the talks last month, he has faced enormous domestic pressure not to come home empty-handed on the abduction issue.
The North is also expected to agree to freeze missile tests beyond 2003, which it has previously pledged, and to promise to keep its nuclear weapons programs within the international nonproliferation framework, the report said.
Mr. Koizumi is expected to provide an apology to address Pyongyang's demands for wartime compensation, to be paid as an economic package like Japan's 1965 settlement with South Korea, the newspaper said.
On Saturday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said Mr. Kim wants to normalize ties with Japan during Mr. Koizumi's visit.

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