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Abe promises support for talks, reiterates need for verifiable action

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday promised his government’s cooperation in efforts to bring about the denuclearization of North Korea.

Speaking at a meeting with Seoul’s National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon, Abe positively assessed recent developments, while reiterating that Pyongyang must take verifiable actions for further progress. Suh had traveled to Tokyo on Monday to discuss the results of his meetings with US President Donald Trump, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“Japan’s fundamental policy is to resolve (North Korea’s) missile and nuclear issues, and the matter of abducted Japanese,” Abe said at the meeting. In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, North Korea abducted a number of Japanese citizens, and only a handful of victims have been returned.

“It is important that words are put to action in North Korea moving toward denuclearization.” 

South Korean NIS chief Suh Hoon, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Yonhap)
South Korean NIS chief Suh Hoon, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Yonhap)

Abe added that Tokyo will collaborate with Seoul on related matters, and that Seoul, Washington and Tokyo should work together to resolve the issues.

The Japanese leader has been a strong proponent of the US-led maximum pressure campaign, and has voiced skepticism on the suggested talks citing past instances of Pyongyang continuing weapons development while engaging in talks.

Suh met Trump on Friday, and Kim on March 5 along with Seoul’s National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong. As a result of the meetings, an inter-Korean summit has been scheduled for April, while Trump agreed to meet with the North Korean leader “by May” to discuss denuclearization.

“Prime Minister Abe said that he expresses respect for President Moon’s leadership in relation to the changes and developments concerning denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Suh said after his meeting with Abe, describing his conversation as “very valuable.”

“(Abe) said that all cooperation and collaboration (required) to hold fruitful inter-Korean and US-North Korea summits will be provided.”

Chung, who headed Moon’s special delegation to Pyongyang, meanwhile headed to Moscow on Tuesday, having wrapped up his mission to Beijing. In Russia, Chung is scheduled to meet with Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

While Suh traveled to Tokyo, Chung was dispatched to Beijing on Monday where he met with President Xi Jinping and other ranking Chinese officials.

The Chinese leader was quoted by Cheong Wa Dae officials as saying that he welcomes the planned inter-Korean and Washington-Pyongyang talks.

“South Korea and China share the same position on major issues of Korean Peninsula. (Beijing) will continue to cooperate closely,” Xi was quoted as saying.

At the meeting, Chung also extended Moon’s invitation to Xi to come to Seoul on a state visit in the near future, Cheong Wa Dae said.

By Choi He-suk (