Japan

Moon says N Korean leader wants to normalize ties with Japan

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed readiness to have dialogue with Japan during his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae In, the presidential office said Sunday, with Tokyo eager to resolve the issue of Pyongyang's abductions of Japanese nationals.

After Moon told Kim during their Friday meeting that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is ready to talk with North Korea, Kim responded by saying the North is also ready to do so, the South's presidential office said.

With North Korea's recent turn to diplomacy, Tokyo is expected to try to arrange talks with Pyongyang in a bid to resolve the long-standing issue of abductions of Japanese by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

Abe, meanwhile, said in Tokyo that Moon discussed the abductions during Friday's historic summit between Moon and Kim.

Abe told reporters following telephone talks with Moon earlier Sunday that he "would like to thank (the South Korean president) for his sincerity" in taking up the abduction issue as promised.

Abe also said Moon conveyed to Kim the Japanese prime minister's ideas about the issue as well as relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang. But Abe declined to comment on how Kim had reportedly responded.

"At this stage, I cannot give details," Abe said. Resolving the abduction issue is a priority for his government.

Tokyo officially recognizes 17 people as having been kidnapped by the North. Five of them were returned in 2002, but North Korea insists eight have died and the other four never entered its territory.

The telephone talks were held for Moon to personally brief Abe on the inter-Korean summit on Friday, in which Moon and Kim agreed to achieve a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and seek a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War by the year's end.

Abe said he told Moon he appreciates the fact that the vision of a "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula was included in the declaration issued after the summit.

The Japanese and South Korean leaders agreed to cooperate so the North will take concrete actions toward denuclearization, Abe said.

The two leaders also confirmed that the inter-Korean summit was "held in line with policies decided" in negotiations involving the two countries and the United States, he said.

Following the telephone talks, Abe met with Suh Hoon, director of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, who visited Tokyo to brief Abe on the landmark summit.

Suh told reporters following the meeting that he agreed with Abe that "the international community must cooperate so (denuclearization pledged by the North) can move to the implementation stage."

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