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

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

Earlier this week, South Korean officials confirmed that Cho Yoon-Je, ambassador to the US, and Susan Thornton, acting USA assistant secretary of state for East Asia, have recently set up a channel of regular communication as part of their preparations for the April 27 summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, as well as President Donald Trump's summit with Kim in May or June.

Kono was set to pay a courtesy call later in the day to President Moon Jae-in and to have dinner with Kang. She emphasized the importance of maintaining the "momentum for dialogue as North Korea has declared it will not conduct any provocations while talks are ongoing".

Kono had a dinner meeting hosted by Kang, where they continued conversing about various issues including North Korea.

SEOUL-Japan and South Korea clearly have different agendas in negotiating with North Korea, as Tokyo lobbies to get its voice heard at upcoming talks between the two Koreas.

"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.

However, when visiting Foreign Minister Taro Kono met with his South Korean counterpart, Kang Kyung-wha, here on April 11, Kang only said, "We are not sure yet what issues will be discussed" by Moon and Kim, according to South Korean officials.

Kang was said to have replied that the "South Korean government has worked at and will continue to work toward humanitarian issues" such as the abduction issue, as well as that of reunions for families torn apart during the 1950-53 Korean War.

Moon said last month that Japan cannot unilaterally declare the wartime issue "over", while Japan says any attempt to modify or scrap the deal, signed by Moon's predecessor Park Geun-Hye, could hurt relations.

On Monday, Trump said, "I think there'll be great respect paid by both parties, and hopefully we'll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea".

Kono later called on the South Korean president and according to South Korean officials, Moon only said, "Let us cooperate in a sustained manner to improve bilateral ties and to resolve outstanding issues between Japan and North Korea, including the abduction issue".

Song Tao, the head of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's global department, will lead the mission. -North summit will take place in May or early June.

The festival is held in Pyongyang as part of the commemorations for the anniversary of the birth of the North's founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, 1912.

China has sent art troupes to every festival since 1986, except in 2016.