National / Politics

Abe and Trump reaffirm importance of halting North Korean missile launches

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed Tuesday that it is “most important” for the international community, including and China and Russia, to cooperate in efforts to stop North Korea from launching another ballistic missile, Abe told reporters.

During a 30-minute phone conversation, Abe said he appreciated Trump’s pledge to defend U.S. allies from the North Korean missile threat.

“We highly appreciate the commitment by Mr. Trump to the safety of allied countries,” Abe said at the Prime Minister’s Office.

North Korea’s announcement that it was preparing a plan to launch missiles to waters near Guam “has raised tension in the region higher than ever,” Abe told reporters after the call.

Abe and Trump spoke as North Korea’s state media reported Tuesday that leader Kim Jong Un received an army briefing on a plan to fire intermediate-range ballistic missiles into the sea 30 to 40 km away from Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific.

According to Japanese officials who were allowed to share details of the Abe-Trump conversation, the leaders did not discuss specific actions the countries would take if Pyongyang actually fired missiles into the waters near Guam, which hosts key American military bases. But they agreed to further improve military readiness and ability, one of the officials told reporters.

Trump “reaffirmed that the United States stands ready to defend and respond to any threat or action taken by North Korea against the United States or its allies, South Korea and Japan” during the call, according to a White House statement.

Abe and Trump also noted that the U.N. Security Council adopted a new resolution calling for tougher economic sanctions against the North — actions supported by China and Russia.

The two leaders then agreed that “strict implementation” of the resolution is now more important than ever, the Japanese official said.

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