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(2nd LD) Leaders of S. Korea, Japan hold summit on bilateral ties, N. Korea

All Headlines 03:55 September 26, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, additional information and minor changes in last 7 paras)

NEW YORK, Sept. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Tuesday in New York for talks on ways to improve their countries' ties and enhance their joint efforts to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

The meeting came five days after Moon returned from his three-day trip to North Korea, where he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reaffirmed their commitment to full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands before the start of a bilateral summit held in New York on Sept. 25, 2018. (Yonhap)

Moon highlighted the importance of improved relations between Japan and North Korea to further accelerate the North's denuclearization process.

"I believe the normalization of North Korea-Japan relations is required in the process of establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula, and I will actively support and cooperate so a North Korea-Japan summit will be held," he told Abe.

Moon said he has also delivered the Japanese leader's message to the North Korean leader.

Abe thanked the South Korean president for raising the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the North in the latter's meeting with Kim.

"Also, I offer my respect to the leadership the president showed for the last South-North Korea summit," he told Moon through his interpreter.

Abe was one of the first global leaders, after U.S. President Donald Trump, to be personally briefed by Moon on the outcome of his third and latest summit with the reclusive North Korean leader.

Moon and Kim first met in the joint security area of Panmunjom inside the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone on April 27, then again on May 26.

In the latest inter-Korean summit, the divided Koreas signed a new military agreement that Moon and other South Korean officials called a de facto non-aggression pact, under which the Koreas agreed never to use military force against each other under any circumstances.

Moon and Abe also discussed ways to improve their countries' own bilateral ties, often soured by their shared history.

Abe urged Moon to honor the countries' agreement signed late 2015, under which Seoul's former Park Geun-hye administration agreed to for once and for all settle the issue of Korean women forced into sexual slavery by Japan's imperial military in the early 20th century in exchange for 1 billion yen (US$8.87 million).

Moon said his government will neither scrap nor demand renegotiation of the agreement, but that it cannot condone a controversial deal opposed by most of his people, including the victims themselves, Moon's spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a press briefing.

The Moon Jae-in government put the 1 billion yen in escrow in May when the president declared the 2015 agreement seriously flawed.

Tuesday's meeting between Moon and Abe marked the first of its kind since May when the South Korean president visited Tokyo for a three-day regional summit that also involved Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Moon will head home Wednesday after addressing the United Nations General Assembly, laying out the details of his recent talks with the North Korean leader for the rest of the world.

He is also scheduled to hold bilateral summits with the leaders of Egypt and Chile before wrapping up his four-day visit here.


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