Trump and Japan's Abe discuss North Korea

US President Donald Trump takes part in a bilateral meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on April 26, 2019.
US President Donald Trump takes part in a bilateral meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on April 26, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Donald Trump discussed North Korea's weapons test with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday (May 6), and the latter said the two countries had agreed to coordinate their efforts to seek the North's denuclearisation.

Mr Trump said the two had also talked about trade, and his only public comment on the discussion was a tweet calling it a "Very good conversation!"

On Saturday, the North conducted multiple rocket launches and a tactical weapons test, raising concerns that it was escalating provocations at a time US nuclear negotiations are deadlocked.

The United States seemed to seek a conciliatory tone in response, however, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying on Sunday that Washington still saw "a path forward" in the denuclearisation process.

Mr Abe, speaking to reporters after his phone call on Monday with Mr Trump, said their countries will seek complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula by coordinating bilateral efforts "completely".

"President Trump and I agreed completely on every aspect of how we should deal with North Korea," Mr Abe told reporters, according to the Kyodo news agency.

The North last carried out a missile test in November 2017, before a rapid diplomatic rapprochement saw tensions ease on the peninsula and a series of summits.

A second summit between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February ended abruptly with no agreement or even a joint final statement.

A return to missile launches would be likely to infuriate Mr Trump, but the North's official KCNA news agency has shied away from the term in its report, saying Mr Kim had ordered a "strike drill" involving "long-range multiple rocket launchers" - which are not targeted by UN sanctions resolutions - and unspecified "tactical guided weapons".

Mr Abe again said he was willing to meet unconditionally with Mr Kim to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.