Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on June 7 ahead of an expected summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, it was announced Wednesday.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a tweet that Trump was continuing “to actively prepare” for the anticipated meeting with the North’s leader, and that the president would meet with Abe just days ahead of the summit.
“Since @POTUS May 24 letter to NK leader Kim Jong Un, the North Koreans have been engaging,” Sanders wrote. “The U.S. continues to actively prepare for @POTUS expected summit w/ leader Kim in Singapore. @POTUS will meet w/ Prime Minister @AbeShinzo on June 7th @WhiteHouse.”
Abe is due to attend the Group of Seven summit in Canada on June 8 and 9.
In a Monday phone call, Trump and Abe affirmed that they would meet ahead of the planned summit and discussed their shared goal of “complete and permanent dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missile programs,” the White House said in a statement.
The call came as diplomatic efforts to salvage the summit, which now appears back on track despite Trump’s letter, moved into high gear, with U.S. and North Korean officials meeting at the peace village of Panmunjom on the North-South border and in Singapore.
And on Tuesday, it was revealed that a top North Korean official widely known as leader Kim Jong Un’s right-hand man had arrived in Beijing, en route to the United States for a meeting with top U.S. officials. The trip to the by former spy chief and senior official Kim Yong Chol is the highest-profile visit to the U.S. in nearly 18 years
Abe, one of the most vociferous supporters of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the nuclear-armed North, has been concerned that the mercurial U.S. president’s decision to meet Kim might result in him making a deal with Pyongyang that leaves out shorter- and medium-range missiles that could strike Japan.
He has also sought to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, making it a priority of his administration, and has repeatedly asked Trump to broach the issue with Pyongyang.
Trump’s apparent decision to pursue to the planned summit has reportedly triggered confusion within the Japanese government as to his ultimate goals, leaving Tokyo seeking clarification as to what his intentions may be.