TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday (May 28) that he strongly expects a high-profile summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to take place, adding that he intends to speak with the American leader over the phone soon.
"US President Donald Trump has made clear that he is working towards holding the US-North Korea summit talks as planned on June 12, and we are aware that cooperation is progressing between the US and North Korea towards the talks," Mr Abe told the House of Councillors Budget Committee, reported Japanese broadcasting corporation NHK.
"The US-North Korea summit presents an important opportunity for progress in the nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles issues, and more important than anything else, the abductions issue. As the meeting will be conducive towards resolving these issues, we have strong expectations that the US-North Korea talks will take place," said Mr Abe.
"By working extremely closely with US President Donald Trump, the recognition and policies of both Japan and the US are perfectly aligned. Within these few days, I will certainly want to hold telephone talks with US President Trump as soon as possible," he added.
Mr Abe said Japan will work closely with the US bilaterally, as well as trilaterally with the US and South Korea, besides other members of the international community such as Russia and China, to resolve issues related to North Korea.
Drawing attention to North Korea's dismantlement of its nuclear test site last week, Mr Abe said: "The destruction is a concrete step towards the complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of all of the North's weapons of mass destruction. We will continue to watch the steps taken by the North."
At a regular press conference on Monday morning, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihige Suga also said that he strongly expects the Trump-Kim meeting to take place.
However, Mr Suga refrained from commenting on whether it would take place on June 12 as scheduled, reported NHK.
"I would like to refrain from commenting now on the possibility of the US-North Korea summit being held on June 12, but we recognise that President Trump is working towards the summit talks on June 12 and there are consultations being made between the US and North Korea," he said.
In response to a query on whether Mr Abe would visit the US before the Group of Seven (G-7) summit next week in Canada, Mr Suga said that it was important for the leaders of the US and Japan, as well as officials at all levels, to work closely together.
In this regard, he said Japan was looking at various possibilities for a meeting on the sidelines of the G-7 summit.