NATIONAL

Tokyo’s attempt at talks with N. Korea fails as Pyongyang skips Ulanbaatar Dialogue

By Jo He-rim
  • Published : Jun 6, 2019 - 16:48
  • Updated : Jun 6, 2019 - 16:48

Japan has faced difficulties engaging North Korea despite having expressed willingness to hold a summit with the North without preconditions.

Tokyo had sought to convey its stance to Pyongyang during a two-day conference that kicked off Wednesday in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, according to a Japanese news outlet on Wednesday. However, the communist regime had canceled its participation in the event. 

The roundtable meeting of Track I participants of the Sixth International Conference of the “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security” was held in Ulaanbaatar on Wednesday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia)

According to Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s Foreign Ministry sent Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Deputy Director-General Masami Tamura to the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asia Security Initiative, an annual conference held since 2013.

Japan has been pressing North Korea to repatriate its people abducted by the communist regime, maintaining that a summit would happen only when progress is made on the issue.

But as Japan finds itself left out of North Korea denuclearization talks, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would like to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “without setting preconditions,” signaling a shift in the approach toward the North.

Since South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim met for the first time in 2018, the North Korean leader has held direct talks on denuclearization with the United States, China and Russia.

While the reason behind the cancellation is not known, Mongolian Foreign Minister Damdin Tsogtbaatar told reporters that Pyongyang had intended to send a high-ranking official before canceling at the last minute. It is the first time that North Korea has not attended the annual international conference. Officials from Japan and North Korea had met on the sidelines of the annual security conference last year. But at the time, Tokyo had demanded Pyongyang repatriate all Japanese abductees.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)