Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Tokyo on Saturday to confirm their shared policy on North Korea before Pompeo travels to Pyongyang on Sunday for denuclearization talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“We would like to coordinate our policies toward North Korea’s abduction, nuclear and missile issues,” Abe said at the outset of the meeting with Pompeo at his office. Abe was expected to call for maintaining U.N. sanctions on North Korea until it denuclearizes.
Pompeo responded by stressing the need for “a fully coordinated, unified view” to realize the denuclearization of North Korea, while adding that he will bring up the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by the North in the 1970s and 1980s when meeting with Kim on Sunday.
Pompeo also met with Foreign Minister Taro Kono later in the day.
In Pyongyang on Sunday, Pompeo will seek to work out details of a second U.S.-North Korea summit that President Donald Trump has said he will hold “in the not too distant future.”
But speaking on his plane en route to Tokyo, Pompeo said, “I doubt we will get it nailed,” according to U.S. media reports. He said he hopes to “begin to develop options for both location and timing for when Chairman Kim will meet with the president again.”
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun is accompanying Pompeo. It will be Biegun’s first visit to North Korea since assuming the post in August, while Pompeo is making his fourth trip there.
Following his visit to Pyongyang, Pompeo will visit South Korea for a meeting with President Moon Jae-in and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, and stop over in China on Monday, the U.S. State Department said.
Speculation has emerged recently that Washington will agree with Pyongyang on a conditional end-of-war declaration in return for concrete steps toward the North’s denuclearization, which is expected to be a major issue at the envisioned U.S.-North Korea summit.
The 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty, which means U.S.-led U.N. forces, including South Korea, are technically still at war with North Korea.
Beijing and Seoul have expressed expectations for the declaration, while Tokyo has remained cautious.
Pompeo canceled his planned trip to the North Korean capital in late August due to a lack of credible action by Pyongyang, even though Kim pledged to work toward “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit, held in June in Singapore.
Kim expressed his readiness, during a meeting with Moon in Pyongyang last month, to permanently dismantle the North’s main nuclear complex if the United States takes “corresponding measures.”
In New York in late September, Pompeo and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho agreed that the secretary of state would visit Pyongyang to prepare for the second Trump-Kim summit.