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Abe says he appreciates N. Korea's shift to talks, will continue pressure

2018/03/09 10:58

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TOKYO, March 9 (Yonhap) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday he appreciates North Korea's shift to talks for denuclearization but that maximum pressure will continue until Pyongyang takes concrete steps to give up nuclear weapons.

Abe's reaction came as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to meet to discuss the latter's denuclearization.

After talks with Trump in Washington, South Korea's chief presidential security advisor Chung Eui-yong announced Friday (Korean time) that Trump agreed to hold talks with Kim by May to achieve permanent denuclearization, raising hopes for a possible breakthrough in the North Korean nuclear stalemate.

"North Korea expressed an intention for dialogue for denuclearization. (I) appreciate this change," Abe told reporters. "This is a result of the international community's continuation of high-level pressure," he said, referring to his telephone conversation with Trump earlier in the day.

"The stance by Japan and the U.S. remains unchanged -- that they will continue their maximum pressure until North Korea takes concrete action toward complete, verifiable and irreversible disposal of its nuclear and missile programs," the prime minister noted.

He and Trump agreed "100 percent" that they will stand together on the North Korean nuclear issue, Abe said, adding that he will travel to the United States for a summit meeting with the American president in April.

Japan and the U.S. will work together to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by the North, he said.