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Foreign Minister Taro Kono to meet Mongolian counterpart next week, source says

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Taro Kono plans to hold talks in Tokyo next week with his Mongolian counterpart Damdin Tsogtbaatar to gather the latest information on North Korea, a Japanese government source said Friday.

Tsogtbaatar, whose country maintains diplomatic ties with the North, met senior North Korean officials in Pyongyang earlier this month.

Kono and Tsogtbaatar could meet as soon as Thursday, the source said. Tsogtbaatar’s visit will be his first to Japan since becoming foreign minister in October.

According to the source, Kono will likely ask Mongolia to increase pressure on North Korea over its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. He will also seek cooperation on the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

Tsogtbaatar met in Pyongyang with North Korea’s nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam and Ri Su Yong, the top official in charge of foreign affairs, the source said.

Wary of the recent thaw between North and South Korea over the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the South, the Japanese government wants to use Mongolia’s ties with North Korea to “gain whatever information it can” on leader Kim Jong Un’s “true intentions,” the source said.

Japan and Mongolia agreed in March last year to urge North Korea to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions against its weapons programs.

They also agreed on a five-year action plan to further develop bilateral ties including in security and the economy.

Kono will aim to confirm progress on the plan with Tsogtbaatar and strengthen the strategic partnership between Japan and Mongolia, the source said.