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Abe To Visit U.S. In April To Discuss North Korea With Trump

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to visit the United States in early April to hold talks with President Donald Trump on North Korean issues even as the US leader is to meet the reclusive state’s leader Kim Jong Un by May, Japan’s Jiji Press reported, told The Straits Times.

In telephone talks on Friday, Abe and Trump confirmed the Japanese leader’s US visit.

Abe told reporters later that North Korea has offered to hold summit talks with the United States, showing its commitment to denuclearisation.

“I welcome this change shown by North Korea,” Abe stressed during the 30-minute phone conversation, which was held at the request of the US side. Trump told Abe that he is ready to meet Kim while closely watching further developments.

North Korea’s latest move “has resulted from the cooperation between Japan and the United States in maximising pressure on the country together with the international community,” Abe said.

“It is necessary for North Korea to take concrete actions toward its denuclearisation in a fully verifiable and irreversible manner,” he added.

Abe and Trump confirmed the policy of maintaining maximum pressure on North Korea until Pyongyang actually takes specific actions towards the abandonment of its nuclear and missile development programmes.

Trump said it is natural to continue sanctions and military pressure on North Korea.

Abe also sought US support to resolve the issue of abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents. Trump said he understands Japan’s position well.

Abe told reporters that Japan and the United States have been and will be 100 per cent together.

Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters the same day: “If North Korea is judged to be only saying that it is ready for denuclearisation, the dialogue will be terminated at that point.” He added: “There will be no reward for North Korea unless it takes action.”

Suh Hoon, head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service and one of the country’s officials who visited North Korea earlier this week to meet Kim, will visit Japan for two days from Monday.

Kono will hold talks with Suh on the results of the inter-Korean meeting.

The Japanese and South Korean sides are also expected to exchange opinions on a summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In, slated for late April.

Kono is considering visiting Washington in mid-March. He plans to hold talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis to reaffirm the solidarity between Japan and the United States over North Korea.

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