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Abe aims to resolve North Korea abduction and nuclear issues, normalize diplomatic ties

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday that Japan is seeking to resolve the North Korean abduction, nuclear and missile issues “in a comprehensive manner” and normalize diplomatic ties with the North, following Pyongyang’s recent diplomatic moves.

Speaking at a news conference in Amman, Abe also reiterated Japan’s commitment to keeping pressure on North Korea so as to persuade the country to ditch its nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction.

The weapons, including ballistic missiles that could hit not only Japan but also the United States, must be abandoned in a “complete, verifiable and irreversible” way, he said.

Praising South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s efforts to hold the landmark inter-Korean summit last Friday, Abe said, “We must lead the momentum (created in the talks) to having North Korea take concrete steps toward complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.”

During Friday’s summit, Moon and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un agreed to achieve a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and seek a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War, which halted with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, by the year’s end.

Kim also expressed his country’s readiness to hold talks with Japan during the summit, the South Korean presidential office said.

Asked about the possibility of Japan-North Korean talks, Abe said his stance is to “put the past behind and normalize ties with” the North based on a 2002 bilateral declaration.

The declaration, issued following talks between then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Kim’s late father Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, says the two countries will establish a political, economic and cultural relationship “through the settlement of an unfortunate past between them and outstanding issues of concern.”

Abe was in Jordan’s capital during his tour of the Middle East.

Abe pledged to deepen bilateral ties with China as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of a friendship treaty between the two countries, saying Li will visit Japan between May 8 and 11 as an official guest.

Abe also said he wants to reaffirm cooperation with Moon ahead of the U.S.-North Korean summit, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

It is anticipated that Kim will discuss the denuclearization of his country with U.S. President Donald Trump in what will be the first-ever U.S.-North Korean summit.

Although the venue for the summit and its date have yet to be decided, Trump said Monday he is considering meeting with Kim in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, or in a third-party country such as Singapore.

Japan, China and South Korea last held a trilateral summit in November 2015 in Seoul, but the three-way meeting has been suspended due in part to political turmoil in South Korea.