Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Abe says he asked North Korea to return all Japanese abductees: Kyodo

Abe says he asked North Korea to return all Japanese abductees: Kyodo

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have affirmed that their two countries can not engage in dialogue with North Korea until the North abandons its nuclear and missile programs.

It was Abe's first interaction with a senior official representing the current regime led by Kim Jong Un, a grandson of founder Kim Il Sung. "We need to directly face this reality".

"Both Japan and the US believe there can not be a meaningful dialogue unless it is toward the complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment of nuclear weapons", he said. "A dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless".

There is concern in Tokyo not only over potential talks between Washington and Pyongyang, but also over the ongoing dialogue between the two Koreas.

"I strongly, directly, asked Mr Kim Yong Nam to resolve the abduction issue, including by returning all the abductees home", Abe said at a House of Representatives committee meeting, referring to North Korea's ceremonial leader.

Abe says he asked North Korea to return all Japanese abductees: Kyodo

The U.S. State Department reaffirmed American-South Korean cooperation in dealing with North Korea on Tuesday, saying the two nations are in "lockstep".

The united front between Tokyo and Washington also appears to be under scrutiny after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggested in a recent interview that the United States is open to holding talks with North Korea while maintaining the "maximum pressure campaign".

The U.S. trade deficit with Japan and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which Trump said he may consider rejoining, did not come up, according to Japanese officials.

Japan officially lists 17 citizens as abduction victims and suspects North Korea's involvement in other disappearances in the 1970s and 1980s.

When Abe and Trump last spoke on the phone on February 2, they confirmed they would continue working together with South Korea to put pressure on North Korea to abandon the weapons programs.


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