09:42 GMT15 May 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said he is ready to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un without preconditions to establish a fruitful relationship between the two countries and seek a solution to the issue of abductees.

    "I am prepared myself to meet Chairman Kim Jong-un without preconditions towards the resolution of the abductions issue and towards establishment of a fruitful relationship with North Korea. I am determined to act by standing at the forefront myself", Suga said in a speech at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    US President Joe Biden and Suga discussed the challenges posed by China and North Korea at an in-person meeting on Friday. The politicians said both the United States and Japan are committed to "working together to take on the challenges from China and on issues like the East China Sea, the South China Sea as well as North Korea to ensure the future of our free and open Indo-Pacific".

    Prior to the Biden-Suga meeting, the Japanese government extended sanctions against Pyongyang by two years. Japan says the sanctions are a response to North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes. They ban trade and prohibit the docking of North Korean ships in Japan.

    North Korea conducted two cruise and ballistic missile tests in March. The launches sparked concerns among a number of states that requested closed consultations on the matter at the UN Security Council. North Korean senior official Ri Pyong-chol said the missile tests were the right of a sovereign state for self-defence over the military threat posed by the United States and South Korea.

    Japan also insists that North Korea abducted 17 of its citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to teach the Japanese language and behaviour at spy schools. In 2002, North Korea admitted its agents had abducted 13 Japanese citizens and denied involvement in any other disappearances.

    Yoshihide Suga, Kim Jong-un, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), Japan
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