Jiji PressPYEONGCHANG (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe briefly met with North Korea’s second-highest-ranking official on Friday, during their visit to Pyeongchang to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, Japanese government sources said.
Abe exchanged words with Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea, at a reception hosted by South Korean President Moon Jae In, according to the sources.
This was the Japanese leader’s first contact with a senior official of the current North Korean regime, led by Kim Jong Un.
Abe conveyed to Kim Yong Nam Japan’s position on North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs and the issue of Japanese nationals abducted to the reclusive nation decades ago, the sources said, adding that the prime minister urged Pyongyang to resolve these issues.
In talks with reporters at a hotel later, Abe said, “I told [Kim Yong Nam] about our thoughts and position, although I can’t elaborate.”
PM raises abduction issue
According to a Japanese official accompanying Abe on his trip to South Korea, the prime minister demanded in the talks with Kim Yong Nam that North Korea resolve the abduction issue and return all abduction victims to Japan.
Officials of the South Korean presidential office said that Abe and the North Korean official shook hands at the reception. But the Japanese side stopped short of clarifying whether they did so.
According to the South Koran officials, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also attended the reception. He did not shake hands with Kim Yong Nam, they said.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres sat next to Kim Yong Nam, and they had long conversations through an interpreter.