Korea, US closely coordinating for summits with N. Korea

Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono has asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss abductions of Japanese nationals when he meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this month.

The two envoys, according to Seoul's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasized building a future-oriented bilateral relationship along with joint coordination and communication among Seoul, Tokyo and Washington on how to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.

In a growing rapprochement on the Korean peninsula kickstarted by the South's Winter Olympics, Mr Kim is set to meet South Korean President Moon Jae In on April 27. She pointed out Pyongyang's pledge to not take provocative action as long as dialogue was continuing and said, "it will be important to maintain the momentum for dialogue when dealing with the denuclearization issue".

The appointment this week of Mr Bolton - a former United Nations ambassador and strong defender of a USA first-strike option against North Korea - has raised concerns in Seoul over the prospects of the diplomatic thaw on the Korean peninsula.

The Japanese foreign minister arrived here Tuesday on a two-day visit for talks with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha, which were held here earlier in the day.

The extent of the discussion on denuclearization at the inter-Korean summit, according to Gary Samore, former White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction under president Barack Obama, should be limited to "South Korea having a statement, a communique of a North Korean intent to pursue denuclearization".

The Moon Jae-in administration has also been critical of a 2015 agreement signed by its conservative predecessor to settle the sexual slavery issue once and for all in exchange for 10 billion yen (US$9.3 million).

The delegation will leave on Friday to attend the April Spring Friendship Art Festival at the invitation of North Korea's Workers' Party, China's official Xinhua news agency said in a brief report.

Kono too expressed hope for improve ties between the two countries, saying he also carried a special message from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the South Korean president, which was not disclosed.

Song Tao, the head of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's global department, will lead the mission.

Both North Korean and foreign artists take part, and this year's week-long event includes concerts, dance performances and acrobatics.

The Moon-Kim summit, if held, will mark the third inter-Korean summit.

  • Sylvester Abbott