Switzerland volunteered to act as a mediator for potential talks between Japan and North Korea. The two Asian nations have been at odds with each other since the issue of abductions of many Japanese nationals by Pyongyang .
Speaking at a press conference, Swiss President Didier Burkhalter said that his nation is “eager to act as a go-between for talks with any countries in the Asia-Pacific region to enhance regional security.” He added that “If (Japan and North Korea) wish, we would like to contribute by providing a setting for dialogue.” While North Korea has maintains that the issue of the 17 abducted Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s has already been resolved, Japan is persistent in their calls for a discussion on the matter. This year, Switzerland heads the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, an intergovernmental organization focusing on security. Didier proposed to Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida that, “a similar framework could be made to build dialogue and foster security and stability in this region.”
Burkhalter visited Japan to celebrate the 150th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, since both nations signed the Treaty of Friendship and Commerce on Feb. 6, 1984 during the Tokugawa shogunate. A 4-day cultural festival called the “Swissdays” will be held in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. The Swiss premier was also in the country to sign an agreement for Japan-Switzerland “open skies,” a treaty on free aviation rules between the two countries to boost airline competition.
[via Kyodo News]