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Donald Trump to push North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to resolve Japanese abduction issue

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reaffirmed Thursday that Trump will push for resolving the Japanese abduction issue during his meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un next week in Singapore.

In a meeting at the White House, Trump and Abe underscored that the two allies, in coordination with the international community, will maintain sanctions on Pyongyang unless it rids itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Abe after their talks at the White House, Trump said he “will be discussing that with North Korea, absolutely,” in reference to the issue involving Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

Expressing his readiness for a meeting with Kim in the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit, Trump said the occasion may include him signing an agreement to end the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Trump said he could invite Kim to visit the United States, possibly the White House, if the summit goes well, and that he would like to see the normalization of diplomatic relations with North Korea.

At the same time, the president said if things do not go well, he could reinstate the policy of applying “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang.

(Sakie Yokota, the mother of Megumi Yokota who was abducted by North Korea in 1977 at the age of 13, visits an exhibition of photographs of her daughter in Tokyo on May 8)

Although Trump said last week he does not want to use the term “maximum pressure” in consideration of the upcoming summit, he reiterated that “we cannot take sanctions off” unless the North denuclearizes.

Abe said he will continue to closely cooperate with Trump and the international community to address the issue of abductions, as well as the North’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Given that Japan has no direct talks with North Korea amid a flurry of diplomatic activity surrounding the country, Abe expressed eagerness to meet with Kim to resolve the abduction issue.

At the start of talks with Abe, Trump said he does not expect to reach a nuclear deal with Kim in just one meeting. Tuesday’s meeting, he said, will be part of “a process” toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

“I think it’s not a one meeting deal,” he said. “At a minimum, we’ll start with, perhaps, a good relationship. And that’s something that’s very important toward the ultimate making of a deal.”

It will be the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. The former Korean War foes have no diplomatic relations.

Aside from North Korea, Trump said Washington seeks a bilateral trade deal with Tokyo as part of efforts to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with the world’s third-largest economy.

The Abe-Trump meeting came after the U.S. leader said last week that he wanted to refrain from using the term “maximum pressure” because Washington and Pyongyang are “getting along,” a remark that has sparked concerns in Japan and elsewhere that it may serve to weaken U.S. and U.N. sanctions on the North.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with a close aide to Kim in Washington, Trump said sanctions will continue unless North Korea denuclearizes, but that he will not impose additional sanctions on Pyongyang “until such time as the talks break down.”

Trump had called for the swift and complete surrender of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. But he recently softened his position and played down expectations that the issue of the North’s nuclear program will be resolved in one meeting.

Abe and Trump met before they attend a two-day Group of Seven summit beginning Friday in Quebec, Canada, where Pyongyang’s weapons programs and abduction of Japanese citizens as well as issues related to global trade will be high on the agenda.

The leaders of the G-7 — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union — are expected to demand that the North dismantle all weapons of mass destruction, missiles and related facilities in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way.

All – Kyodo News+

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