Russian diplomat to visit Japan

Russia’s chief envoy to talks on N. Korean denuclearization is expected to visit Japan to discuss Pyongyang's progress toward denuclearization with his Japanese counterpart, a news report said Tuesday.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov is expected to visit Thursday to meet with Kenichiro Sasae, Kyodo News agency said, citing an unidentified senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official.

The pair are likely to take up the timing of restarting the six-nation disarmament talks and the intial steps Pyongyang is taking toward denuclearization, including stopping its plutonium-producing Yongbyon reactor, Kyodo said.

Foreign Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment late Tuesday.

On Monday, the North Korean government vowed to move forward with a February agreement reached in the talks to shut down the Yongbyon reactor in exchange for aid, after announcing that a dispute over frozen bank funds that had held up disarmament efforts was now finally over.

U.N. nuclear monitors arrived in North Korea Tuesday to discuss the communist nation's plans to fulfill its long-delayed pledge to shut the reactor down.

The six-nation talks also include China, South Korea and the United States.