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No timeframe for striking N.Korea off terrorism list - Japan FM

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Japan's foreign minister denied Tuesday that a timeframe had been set for removing North Korea from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism at the latest round of disarmament talks with the country.
TOKYO, October 2 (RIA Novosti) - Japan's foreign minister denied Tuesday that a timeframe had been set for removing North Korea from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism at the latest round of disarmament talks with the country.

"The timeframe has not been set as [members of the six-nation talks] have taken into account Japan's opinion on the matter," Masahiko Komura said.

The Kyodo News agency earlier quoted North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye-gwan, as saying that a draft resolution on the talks would include a date, when Pyongyang would be struck off the blacklist.

Removing the Communist state from the terrorism list is one of the incentives promised under a breakthrough nuclear disarmament deal in February after which Pyongyang sealed its main nuclear reactor and allowed UN nuclear inspectors into the facilities.

Japan insists Pyongyang should remain on the list until the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean secret services in the 1970-80s is resolved. The United States backs the position.

The issue has remained a stumbling block in efforts to improve bilateral relations for which a separate working group was set up as part of the six-nation talks to persuade North Korea to drop its nuclear program in exchange for economic and diplomatic incentives.

The latest round of talks, which involves the U.S., Russia, Japan, the two Koreas and the host China, were aimed at finalizing a timeline for Pyongyang to shut down all its nuclear facilities and provide full data of its nuclear programs. The talks ended Sunday as envoys returned to their countries to discuss the draft statement with leaders. The document is to be made public this week.

The nations currently on the U.S. terrorism blacklist are Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. North Korea was put on the list in January 1988 after Washington said it was behind the 1987 bombing of a South Korea airliner, when all 115 people on board were killed.

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