Japan asks S. Korea to raise abduction issue at North-South summit

South Korean conservative heavyweight warns against “facade of peace” between two Koreas

"Kono expressed Japan's stance on "comfort women" and Dokdo, and Kang explained our stance over "comfort women" and made clear that the South can not accept any argument by Japan over Dokdo", the ministry said in a statement.

Kono arrived in South Korea late on Tuesday, on his first visit to the country since taking the post in August previous year.

Kono and his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha vowed "close communication and cooperation" to disarm the North and build peace on the flashpoint peninsula, Seoul's foreign ministry said after their meeting in Seoul. He expressed Japan's hope that the issue can be raised at the upcoming summits, which he said are a "turning point".

Robert Gallucci, chief USA negotiator during the North Korean nuclear crisis in 1994, said the inter-Korean summit should create an atmosphere for "future conversations between experts" by touching up on a general framework of talks.

They also reaffirmed close cooperation among them and the United States to maintain maximum pressure on the North to achieve complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

South Korea and Japan have also locked horns over Seoul-controlled islets in the sea between the two countries called Dokdo in the South and Takeshima in Japan.




The ministers also affirmed that sanctions and other pressure on North Korea should be maintained until Pyongyang takes concrete actions toward denuclearization, the officials said.

"Denuclearization is, no doubt, going to be ... a US angle", said William Brown, a former intelligence official who is now an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown University.

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

"Bolton does not even mention the possibility of a peace treaty with Pyongyang" which is sought by the South, said Professor Koo Kab Woo at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

Kang agreed to share information with Japan on the inter-Korean summit, and Kono on the upcoming talks between Abe and Trump. The two sides plan to draw up a blueprint for a "new partnership" to mark the 20th anniversary of the Korea-Japan joint declaration, and convene a director-general meeting soon to strengthen diplomatic relations, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Kono's trip marked the first of its kind by a Japanese foreign minister since December 2015. Suh, a member of Moon's special delegation to Pyongyang, visited Tokyo last month to brief the Japanese government on the results of the meeting with the North Korean leader.

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