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Kim Jong Un’s Sister Responds to US Ally’s North Korea Overtures

The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has signaled the reclusive regime’s openness to talks with a key U.S. ally, in what could be a rare opportunity to dial down months of high tension on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim Yo Jong, 36, whom some observers have tipped one day to succeed her brother, 40, said recent overtures by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan were a positive sign. However. she cautioned against Tokyo’s “ulterior intention,” according to a statement carried on Thursday by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Kishida has openly sided with Washington and Seoul against Pyongyang’s provocative missile tests in recent months. But he is now betting his sliding domestic approval ratings on a chance to secure information about Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades earlier, the U.K. Financial Times newspaper reported this week. Kishida’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

North Korea admitted in 2002 to kidnapping 13 Japanese nationals in the 1960s and 1970s. Five people and their families were later returned to Japan, but Pyongyang said the others had died. Tokyo believes 17 of its citizens were taken and has been working to secure their return, dead or alive.

Kishida told the Japanese parliament last week that it was extremely important to build high-level ties with the North Korean leadership. He has previously said he wants to advance the decades-old issue, including through face-to-face talks with Kim Jong Un.

“I think our state leadership still has no idea of repairing the DPRK-Japan relations and has no interest in contact,” Kim Yo Jong said, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, her country’s formal name. The deputy spokesperson for the Workers’ Party, described the remarks as her “personal view,” according to the KCNA.

Source: Newsweek