TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan and North Korea should begin talks to normalize relations between the two countries and contribute to peace and stability in the region, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told a Japanese newspaper on Tuesday.
“In particular, I think dialogue between Japan and North Korea should be resumed,” Moon said in the interview with the Yomiuri newspaper.
“If Japan-North Korea relations are normalized, that would greatly contribute to peace and security in Northeast Asia beyond the Korean peninsula,” he said in written answers to questions submitted by the newspaper.
The interview was conducted ahead of a summit on Wednesday between Moon, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Tokyo.
North Korea had been expected to be high on the agenda but a senior Chinese diplomat said last week Pyongyang would not be a focus of the talks.
At Moon’s summit last month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, both sides agreed to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Kim is also due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in the coming weeks.
In the interview, Moon said Kim’s desire for “complete denuclearization” laid the groundwork for the summit between the United States and North Korea, although they would have to see if concrete steps were agreed at the talks.
Moon said Kim was “a very open and practical person” and both leaders had a mutual goal for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
“From now on, based on our deep mutual trust, we’ll make bold steps toward peace and prosperity, and unification,” Moon said.
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Darren Schuettler)