EX-U.S. SOLDIER IN N.KOREA AGREES TO MEET WIFE


2004.07.01
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SEOUL�A former soldier who allegedly deserted from the U.S. Army to North Korea has agreed to meet his Japanese wife in Indonesia, which has no extradition treaty with the United States.

Japan wants Hitomi Soga, abducted by North Korean agents in 1978 to teach its spies Japanese language and culture, to reunite with the husband and two daughters she left behind on her return to Japan in 2002.

Her husband, Charles Robert Jenkins, is an alleged U.S. Army deserter and defector to North Korea, and he has so far refused to go to Japan for fear he will be extradited to face desertion charges.

Indonesia's foreign minister meanwhile has said that Pyongyang is "very Positive� toward the possibility of reuniting the family.

Hassan Wirajuda, whose country is hosting a forum of Asia-Pacific foreign ministers this week, said Indonesia was willing to host the reunion.

"We are ready whenever,� Wirajuda told reporters after meeting his Japanese counterpart, Yoriko Kawaguchi. "I believe the government of North Korea is very positive toward the possibility of that meeting occurring.�

Wirajuda was speaking ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' ASEAN Regional Forum, scheduled for Friday in Jakarta. North Korea's Paek Nam Sun is one of the Asia-Pacific foreign ministers expected at the meeting.

Kawaguchi said she needed to ask Paek about the matter. "We don't know what the answer is yet,� she was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Indonesia has proposed three possible locations for the reunion-the island of Bali, or the cities of Yogyakarta or Bogor on the main island of Java, Kyodo News agency said, citing an unnamed official from Indonesia's Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, human remains believed to be those of a U.S. soldier lost in the Korean War were honored Thursday after being turned over by North Korea as part of a project to find thousands of missing soldiers.

The remains, in a casket draped with the United Nations flag, were brought overland on Tuesday across the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that has divided rival North and South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 conflict, following a military ceremony.

They will be flown to Hawaii for identification.

U.S. and North Korean teams recovered the remains as part of a joint search project that began in 1996 and has so far recovered more than 180 remains thought to be those of U.S. soldiers. #####

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