Japan, N. Korea open bilateral talks on abductions

Japan and North Korea have begun bilateral talks in Mongolia that Tokyo hopes will shed light on a series of decades-old abductions.

The talks in Ulan Bator are scheduled to last through Friday. In August, lower-level negotiators from the two countries held their first bilateral talks in four years, but made little progress.

Japan wants information on the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents in the 1970s and `80s. Japan believes at least one abductee may still be alive and in the North, though North Korea denies this. Five abductees were returned to Japan in 2002.

Japan and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic relations. The abduction issue and concerns over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs have long strained ties.