Moon, Abe call for joint efforts to denuke N. Korea, improve bilateral ties

SEOUL/TOKYO, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed the importance of cooperation between their countries in ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

"First of all, I thank you for supporting the South-North Korea summit and evaluating the success of the South-North summit," Moon said while meeting the Japanese prime minister in a bilateral summit held in Tokyo.

The meeting came shortly after the two leaders attended a three-way summit that also involved Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Wednesday's meeting came about two weeks after Moon held a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the border village of Panmunjom, where the two leaders of the divided Koreas agreed to seek a formal end to the Korean War and pursue complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Abe welcomed the outcome of the inter-Korean summit, praising Moon for his leadership.

He promised to work closely with the South Korean president for the success of an upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader.

"I will cooperate with President Moon and South Korea so that we may secure concrete actions by North Korea for denuclearization through the North Korea-U.S. summit," Abe told Moon, according to pool reports.

Moon highlighted the importance of the U.S.-North Korea summit, saying the unprecedented meeting will likely decide how they will actually rid the North of its nuclear weapons.

"I ask that Japan will continue to support the process to the end for the success of the North Korea-U.S. summit," the South Korean president was quoted as saying.

While continuing their dialogue over lunch, Prime Minister Abe stressed the need to maintain international sanctions on North Korea until Pyongyang completely abandons its nuclear development program, according to Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

"When sanctions against North Korea will be reduced or removed is important. We must not offer rewards to North Korea simply for shutting down its Punggye-ri nuclear test site or not launching intercontinental ballistic missiles," Abe was quoted as saying.

Moon said his country has no plans to do so without the consent of the international community, also noting all assistance and support provided to North Korea's delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea were double-checked to make sure they did not violate any U.N. sanctions currently in place.

The Moon-Abe meeting was the sixth of its kind since Moon took office one year earlier Thrusday, but Moon's trip to Japan was the first of its kind by a South Korean president since December 2011.

Abe surprised Moon with a cake to mark the first year anniversary of his inauguration.

"For South Korea and Japan, this summit marks the start of the shuttle diplomacy Prime Minister Abe and I have agreed to resume. I hope we will earnestly launch our shuttle diplomacy in the future and turn the year that marks the 20th anniversary of the Kim Dae-jung-Obuchi Declaration of Partnership into a new start for the development of the South-Japan relationship," Moon said.

The Kim-Obuchi declaration is a joint declaration issued by the late former South Korean president and former Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi in 1998.

Abe too expressed hope for improved ties between his country and South Korea.

"I hope to strengthen Japan-South Korea relations in various areas. I wish I will be able to create new future-oriented relations between the two countries together with President Moon Jae-in," he said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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