By Seima Oki and Yujiro Okabe / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondents SEOUL — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea during his talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on Sunday, he told reporters in Seoul on Monday.
Pompeo also spoke on North Korea’s self-proclaimed abandonment of its nuclear testing site and missile engine test facility, saying the chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea expressed his willingness to accept international inspectors. Pompeo said they will be sent “as soon as the two sides agree on logistics.”
Pompeo said that North Korea has agreed to improve relations with the international community. He also said that Kim completely understands that there are a considerable number of issues — including the abductions — that need to be addressed.
Pyongyang destroyed its Punggye-ri nuclear test site in northeast North Korea in May this year, and announced it will abandon the Sohae missile engine test facility located in the northwestern part of the country. Pompeo expressed his view of swiftly sending the inspectors to the sites, citing Kim’s willingness to accept them during the talk.
The top U.S. diplomat also said both sides were “pretty close” to agreement on the details of a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim.
Pompeo stated that the two leaders would be able to make real and substantial progress at the next summit concerning denuclearization.
According to Pompeo, Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea who accompanied him to Pyongyang, and his counterpart, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, will meet to accelerate working-level talks on the issue.
Pompeo briefs Kono
Foreign Minister Taro Kono received a phone call on Monday night from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding his talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on Sunday.
Pompeo told Kono that he directly raised the abduction issue with Kim. The two agreed to strengthen cooperation between Japan and the United States to press forward on North Korean denuclearization.