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Japan, U.S. eye push for complete N. Korea denuclearization

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed Wednesday to urge North Korea to denuclearize in a “complete, verifiable and irreversible” way while keeping existing sanctions in place.

After meeting with Pompeo, Kono told reporters that the two foreign ministers will meet again after a U.S.-North Korea summit slated for June 12 in Singapore.

(Kono (R) shakes hands with Pompeo during their talks in Amman on April 30)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington to reaffirm the importance of urging North Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Tokyo has asked Washington to raise the long-standing issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, as Abe has made resolving it a priority. Pyongyang has claimed that the issue is settled.

Pompeo, who served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has taken the lead in U.S. negotiations with Pyongyang.

The foreign chiefs’ meeting came as the Trump administration is stepping up preparations for the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that Trump reinstated last week.

Despite Washington later clarifying that the United States will maintain its policy of putting maximum pressure on Pyongyang, Trump said Friday that he does not want to use the “maximum pressure” phrase.

“We understand it’s a message (to North Korea) that he hopes he won’t have to carry out (further) sanctions,” Kono told reporters after the meeting.

The Japanese government is seeking to gather information and strengthen bilateral coordination in the run-up to the first-ever summit between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Kono and Pompeo also held face-to-face talks in May.

All – Kyodo News+

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