Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korea’s intelligence chief agreed Monday that Tokyo and Pyongyang should launch talks to take place as the United States and South Korea conduct their own dialogues with North Korea.
National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon told reporters after the meeting that he told Abe the mood surrounding North Korea’s denuclearization has been improving after small twists and turns. Suh was one of the envoys who met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang last week.
The intelligence chief said he briefed Abe “in detail” about the outcome of the South Korean delegation’s visit to the North, according to the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo.
Abe shared Suh’s view that it will be “most desirable” for solving various issues if bilateral talks between Tokyo and Pyongyang follow the North’s dialogues with Seoul and Washington, Suh official told reporters.
Abe is eager to hold direct talks with North Korea to make a breakthrough on the long-standing abduction issue. During Monday’s meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, the two confirmed they would cooperate in finding and retrieving those Japanese who were abducted by the North’s agents in the 1970s and 1980s.
Last Wednesday, Kim confirmed his commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a meeting with the South Korean delegation and vowed to continue cooperating with the United States. The two Koreas are planning to hold a summit from Sept. 18 to 20.
Abe expressed hope that inter-Korean dialogue, including what will be the third summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, will lead to concrete action by North Korea on the U.S.-North Korean agreement on denuclearization, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
“President Moon believes Prime Minister Abe’s role is important in achieving a denuclearized and peaceful peninsula,” Suh told Abe through a translator at the meeting. Suh also called for closer bilateral coordination. The initial portion of their talks was open to the press.
Nearly three months after the unprecedented U.S.-North Korea summit in June, the denuclearization talks are increasingly seen as having made little progress.
In his meeting with the South Korean envoys, Kim voiced hope that denuclearization will take place during U.S. President Donald Trump’s current term in office through January 2021, according to Seoul.