Tokyo, May 7 (IANS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un without conditions to resolve mutual mistrust and sort out ongoing bilateral issues, a government spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Abe has discussed the possibility of meeting Kim “unconditionally”, which showed the Prime Minister’s “clear determination” to hold a summit to resolve issues of primary interest for Japan.
Abe had earlier signalled the shift in Japan’s position in an interview with local newspaper Sankei, published on May 2.
Suga explained the reason behind Abe changing his stand as the Prime Minister had so far rejected the possibility of a dialogue with the North Korean leader.
The official said the only way to “break the current mutual distrust” was for Abe to hold unconditional talks with Kim, Efe news reported.
The Japanese Prime Minister specifically intended to discuss with Kim of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes and above all the kidnappings of Japanese citizens carried by North Korea decades ago.
At least 17 Japanese citizens were kidnapped by North Korea between 1977 and 1987, according to Tokyo.
Five of them have already returned to Japan while one more was located in Pyongyang. But there have been no signs of the others, according to North Korea’s official position.
Clarification over the kidnappings and the possible return of victims is one of the main political agendas of Abe, and has been part of the discussions held between Japanese representatives and leaders of other countries in order to maintain international pressure on North Korea, the report said.
Since Kim and US President Donald Trump held their first meeting in Singapore in June 2018, Abe has expressed the wish to meet Kim many times, but has not received any response from Pyongyang until now.
The dialogue process between Washington and Pyongyang regarding the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula has been stuck since the second bilateral summit in February ended abruptly, leaving behind a delicate situation even as North Korea tested new short-range missiles on Saturday.