AKIPRESS.COM - The Japanese government was unable to directly propose arranging a summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after Pyongyang pulled its officials out of a two-day security conference held in Mongolia through Thursday, Mainichi reports.
Tokyo had hoped to relay Abe's willingness to hold the summit "without conditions," a softening of his previous stance that any meeting between the leaders would require a guarantee that North Korea moves closer to returning Japanese nationals abducted by its agents in the 1970s and 1980s.
According to the Mongolian government, Pyongyang usually fields officials to the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue, an annual conference on Northeast Asian security, and had said it intends to do so this year, but pulled out at the last second.
The conference has been one of the rare opportunities for Japanese and North Korean officials to interact, as the countries do not have formal diplomatic ties.
A senior official at the Japanese Foreign Ministry said North Korea has stopped engaging in talks with other countries since the summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in February collapsed over differing views on the scope of the North's denuclearization in exchange for sanctions relief.
"They may be reluctant to make moves right now because of the uncertainty surrounding the negotiations with the United States," the official said, adding that Tokyo will continue efforts to reach out to Pyongyang.