WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump agreed Monday to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ahead of a potential summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to Japanese officials, a chance for Trump and Abe to coordinate their strategy amid concerns in Tokyo over the prospective peace talks.
Trump and Abe spoke by phone on Memorial Day as a U.S. delegation was negotiating with North Korean counterparts in a bid to keep alive the June 12 summit in Singapore, which Trump announced last week he was canceling. After a more conciliatory statement from Pyongyang, however, the president has said that the summit could be back on. A separate U.S. team led by White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin and deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel is in Singapore to coordinate logistics.
A meeting between Trump and Abe could come on the sidelines of the Group of 7 economic summit in Quebec on June 8-9, but it is also possible that Abe will swing by Washington en route to that conference, a Japanese official said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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As South Korean President Moon Jae-in has sought to play the matchmaker between Trump and Kim in hopes of easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Abe has been concerned about an outcome that could leave Japan’s security interests unresolved. Abe met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort last month and urged that he include curbs on North Korea’s short- and medium-range ballistics missiles, along with its nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, in the talks with Kim.
Abe also has asked Trump to raise the unresolved cases of 12 Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. Trump has said he will do so, and Abe emphasized their cases again Monday in a readout of his phone call with Trump.