North Korea is asking Japan to send low-level officials to their first governmental talks in 4 years that are set for next week.
Red Cross officials from Japan and North Korea have been seeking the cooperation of both governments in returning the remains of Japanese who died at the end of World War Two in the north of the Korean Peninsula.
In response, government negotiators from Tokyo and Pyongyang agreed to hold bilateral negotiations in Beijing next Wednesday. Both governments are now making arrangements for procedural matters.
The Japanese are proposing that officials at the director general-level hold talks. They say negotiators should hold the highest-level positions possible.
North Korea had at one point hinted at agreeing to the proposal, but now is claiming that negotiators need not hold positions higher than division chief.
Japanese Foreign Ministry sources say the North Koreans may be trying to raise the level of the talks in stages after waiting to see how Japan responds.
Japanese officials hope to make progress on returning the remains as well as other unresolved bilateral matters, including the North’s past abductions of Japanese nationals.