Japan working to arrange meeting between Abe, Kim: local media

Source:AFP Published: 2018/6/14 22:48:41

Japan is working to arrange a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kim Jong-un after the North Korean leader said he was open to talks, local media reported Thursday.

The Sankei Shimbun said Kim discussed the possibility during historic talks Tuesday with US President Donald Trump.

Japan wants the talks to push the emotive issue of citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago. Abe on Thursday repeated a pledge to push for dialogue with Pyongyang on the issue as he met families of abductees.

"I will face [North Korea] directly and work toward resolving the abduction issue," he told the families.

Government officials are weighing several scenarios, including Abe visiting Pyongyang in August, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Another scenario would see Abe meet Kim on the sidelines of a conference in Russia in September, the daily said.

Several Japanese media outlets said Kim had expressed a readiness to meet Abe when he held a summit with Trump.

Japanese foreign ministry officials plan to hold talks with North Korean officials at an international security conference in Mongolia this week as they try to firm up plans, local media said.

"If [Abe's] visit to Pyongyang in August proves difficult," he could hold talks with Kim on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia's Vladivostok in September, the Yomiuri said.

Government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga on Thursday said only that "nothing has been decided at the moment."

On Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin asked North Korean official Kim Yong-nam at their meeting to pass an invitation to visit Russia in September to Kim Jong-un, and said he welcomed the meeting between the North Korean leader and Trump.

Japan has maintained a hardline position on North Korea despite the stepped-up diplomacy with Pyongyang in recent months, and has been left largely on the sidelines as South Korea and the US have held talks with Kim.


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