SEOUL – Japan called on Monday on a high-level South Korean delegation, which is set to visit the North the same day, to push Pyongyang toward nuclear disarmament.
The Japanese government also urged South Korea to try to bring back North Korea to the negotiating table along with the United States, and boost the recent rapprochement between Seoul and Pyongyang.
During a press conference on Monday, Japanese government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga stressed the importance of North Korea committing to denuclearization, while warning precaution over talks between the two Koreas.
He added that previous attempts at rapprochement between the two Koreas did not prevent the North from going forward with its nuclear weapons development program.
He also said that Japan was willing to cooperate with South Korea and the United States when dealing with the Kim Jong-un regime, and reaffirmed the importance of maintaining the policy of “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang.
The South Korean delegation’s two-day visit to the North might include a meeting with Kim Jong-un, in what would be the first meeting of the North Korean leader – who took over the reins of the country after the death of his father in 2011 – with the neighboring country’s representatives.
The high-level delegation’s visit comes as a result of recent thaw in relations between the two Koreas on the occasion of the Winter Olympic Games.
The delegation, headed by South Korean National Security Chief, Chung Eui Yong, is scheduled to soon visit the US to explain the outcome of its visit to Pyongyang, according to Seoul.
The Japanese government also plans to send its Foreign Minister, Taro Kono, to Washington in mid-March, to discuss the strategy against North Korea with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Minister Jim Mattis, according to reports in the Japanese media.