North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is willing to hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korea’s presidential Blue House said Sunday, just days after a historic North-South summit.
Kim told South Korean President Moon Jae-in during Friday’s talks that he is ready to hold a dialogue with Japan at “any time,” the Blue House said, adding that Moon had relayed Kim’s remark to Abe in a telephone call Sunday morning.
Abe told Moon that Tokyo intends to work to hold a bilateral summit with Pyongyang, adding he hopes Moon will mediate if necessary, the Blue House said.
Moon replied that he will gladly do so, it added.
Moon also discussed the abduction issue during the summit, Abe said Sunday after the telephone call. For Japan, resolving the issue of the Japanese who were abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s remains a top priority.
“I would like to thank (the South Korean president) for his sincerity” in taking up the issue as promised, Abe told reporters.
Abe said Moon conveyed his ideas about the abduction issue and Tokyo’s relations with Pyongyang to Kim but declined to comment on how Kim reportedly responded.
“At this stage, I cannot give details,” Abe said.
But the abduction issue remains a possible roadblock to talks with Pyongyang. Tokyo officially recognizes 17 people as having been kidnapped by the North in the 1970s and 1980s. Five were returned in 2002, but the North insists eight died and the other four never entered its territory.
The telephone talks were held for Moon to personally brief Abe on the inter-Korean summit on Friday. Moon and Kim agreed to achieve a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and seek a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War by the year’s end.
Abe said he told Moon he appreciates the fact that the envisioned “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula was included in the declaration issued.
The two leaders agreed to cooperate so the North will take concrete actions toward denuclearization, Abe said.
They also confirmed that the inter-Korean summit was “held in line with policies decided” in negotiations involving their two countries and the United States, he said.
Following the telephone talks, Abe met with Suh Hoon, director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, who visited Tokyo to brief Abe on the landmark summit.
Suh told reporters after the meeting that he agreed with Abe that “the international community must cooperate so (the denuclearization pledged by the North) can move to the implementation stage.”
In a separate teleconference late Saturday, Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump also agreed that North Korea needs to take concrete action toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. He said they agreed there was a need to closely follow developments related to North Korea in talks held a day after the historic inter-Korean summit between North and South Korea.
“Whether North Korea will take concrete action from now on will be important,” Abe told reporters after his talks with Trump, adding he and Trump shared the view that the summit was a “historic step” toward peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
As Trump is expected to talk with Kim by early June, Japan and the U.S. have agreed to work together, along with South Korea, to make the meeting a success, Abe said.
At the summit, Moon and Kim agreed to pursue “complete” denuclearization and a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War.
“Just had a long and very good talk with President Moon of South Korea. Things are going very well, time and location of meeting with North Korea is being set,” Trump said Saturday in a Twitter post, apparently referring to his planned talks with the North Korean leader.
The Blue House said earlier that Moon and Trump talked on the phone for about 75 minutes.