National / Politics

Japan's top diplomat Taro Kono to visit South Korea for talks on North Korea policy

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Tuesday was set to depart for South Korea to discuss policy on North Korea with his counterpart Kang Kyung-wha.

Kono is also scheduled to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during his two-day visit to Seoul, according to Japanese officials. Moon is set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on April 27.

“With South Korea preparing for the inter-Korean summit, I want to have a thorough exchange of views on North Korean issues,” Kono said after a Cabinet meeting.

Kono said he wants to make sure the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s is brought up in both the Moon-Kim summit and a subsequent one between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.

According to Japanese officials, Kono will push the need for the international community to maintain pressure — such as by sanctions — on North Korea until it gives up its nuclear and missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

Kono is set to arrive in South Korea on Tuesday evening and spend the night in Seoul before meeting Moon and Kang on Wednesday afternoon. He is set to return to Japan later on Wednesday.

The trip is Kono’s first since he was appointed to his post in August last year, and the first by a Japanese foreign minister since his predecessor Fumio Kishida visited in December 2015.

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