Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed willingness to talk directly with North Korea, but stressed that doing so must help resolve the issue of Japanese abducted by the country.
Abe was speaking to a nonpartisan group of lawmakers that submitted recommendations on the abduction issue after the June 12th summit between the United States and North Korea.
The group told Abe that sanctions on the North should not be eased until the abduction, nuclear and missile issues are resolved comprehensively.
They also called for a cautious approach at a possible summit with North Korea, and said the talks must be substantive and lead to a return of the abductees.
Abe responded that Japan will maintain its current sanctions until the North takes concrete steps toward denuclearization. He added that the 2 countries must end their mutual distrust and talk face-to-face.
The group's head, former abduction issue minister Keiji Furuya, later told reporters that the matter requires bilateral talks but that hasty negotiations would achieve nothing.
He called on the government to stick to its principles in talks with the North.