A four-member North Korean delegation arrived in China on Saturday for talks with Japan on possible repatriation of the remains of Japanese nationals who died in the communist country during World War II.
The talks, the first of their kind since August 2012, are scheduled to open on Monday in Shenyang, a major city in northeastern China. North Korean officials said the talks are scheduled to continue for three days.
"The talks will last three days and the agenda is the issue of the remains of Japanese buried in our republic's territory," said Ri Ho-rim, secretary general of the North's Red Cross Society who heads the delegation.
The four-member North Korean delegation includes two North Korean diplomats handling Japanese affairs in the foreign ministry, which spawned speculation that some additional issues may be discussed at the meeting.
The chief North Korean delegate, however, did not respond to questions by reporters whether government-to-government level discussions would be made during the contact.
Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony from 1910-45. It normalized relations with South Korea in 1965 but has no formal diplomatic relations with the North.
Japan's foreign ministry said earlier this week that it will send Keiichi Ono, chief of its Northeast Asia division, to the talks.
The Japanese delegation is led by Osamu Tasaka, director general of the International Department at the Japanese Red Cross.
A similar Red Cross contact between North Korea and Japan in2012 led to a government-level meeting later that year. A follow-up meeting, scheduled to be held a month later, was called off after Pyongyang announced a plan to launch a long-range rocket. (Yonhap)