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In phone chat, Abe and Trump agree to pursue denuclearization of Korean Peninsula

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed Wednesday they will continue to work together toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

During their phone talks, Abe and Trump discussed the latest situation surrounding North Korea and coordinated their policies in dealing with the country, Abe told reporters.

The telephone conversation comes ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s expected visit to Pyongyang, which would be his fourth, as Washington has been trying to push North Korea into taking concrete action to achieve the denuclearization goal.

Abe also said he was reassured by Trump that Washington will provide support to Tokyo in resolving the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. Abe has described the resolution as one of his administration’s priorities.

The prime minister reiterated Japan’s readiness to work together with the United States, South Korea, China and Russia to end North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs and settle the abduction issue.

According to the White House, Trump and Abe also said during their telephone conversation that they look forward to meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September.

Trump and Abe committed to maintaining “strong sanctions” on North Korea to compel it to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a briefing in Washington on Wednesday.

Speaking at a rally Tuesday in West Virginia, Trump said Washington will not remove “massive sanctions” on Pyongyang unless it eliminates its nuclear weapons program.

“I want to take them off quickly but they’ve got to get rid of the nukes,” he said.

Trump held a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore, in which Kim promised to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

But bilateral negotiations over the issue have not proceeded smoothly since then as Pyongyang has yet to take concrete steps toward the goal, raising doubts about Kim’s seriousness to give up his country’s nuclear weapons.

Trump said in an interview with Reuters on Monday he would “most likely” meet again with Kim, without offering details on the timing and venue.

Abe is also seeking to hold a summit with Kim to achieve a breakthrough in settling the long-standing abduction issue.