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International relations

Abe, Trump and Moon agree to tighten pressure on North Korea

Talks focus on international community's 'most pressing issue'

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U.S. President Donald Trump, South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Germany on July 6.   © Reuters

HAMBURG, Germany -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to put more pressure on North Korea when they met ahead of the Group of 20 leaders' summit which kicks off in Hamburg on Friday.

The three leaders also agreed to urge China to play a greater role in efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

The last time the three met was in Washington last March -- the first encounter after Trump and Moon took office.

Discussions lasted about 75 minutes over dinner at the U.S. Consulate General in Hamburg, mostly focusing on Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development.

According to Japanese government officials, Abe said North Korea is the most pressing issue facing the international community. He also stressed the importance of the meeting, describing it as a historic opportunity for the three countries to share strategy on how to urge North Korea to renounce its nuclear weapons program.

Abe said Tuesday's launch of what North Korean authorities claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile has shown that Pyongyang has no interest in serious dialogue. All three leaders shared the view that the technology at the country's disposal has made substantial progress.

Abe said it is important to pressure North Korea to come to the negotiating table, stressing the need to tighten U.N. sanctions. Both Trump and Moon agreed.

According to South Korean government officials, Moon said freezing the nuclear program would pave the way for dialogue, which would help achieve the ultimate goal of denuclearization through a detailed road map.

Japan and South Korea voiced appreciation for sanctions against Chinese banks that have links with North Korea announced by the U.S. in late June and agreed to cooperate with Washington in tightening sanctions.

The three leaders shared the view that Russia as well as China had a crucial role to play in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. They confirmed that they would call on Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin to cooperate in separate meetings to be held on the sidelines of the G-20 summit. The trio also agreed to cooperate to deliver a strong message to North Korea at the summit.

Abe said the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea is a high-priority issue for Japan and the country can afford no further delay, asking for understanding and cooperation from the U.S. and South Korean leaders, both of whom agreed.

The agreement reached between Tokyo and Seoul regarding "comfort women" in late 2015 was not discussed at the dinner. The previous U.S. administration had supported the agreement, saying it would help improve relations between the two countries.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday issued a strong condemnation of North Korea over Tuesday's test launch.

"They are behaving in a very, very dangerous manner and something will have to be done," Trump said in a joint news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw.

North Korea is "a threat, and we will confront it very strongly," Trump emphasized.

But he stopped short of making any commitment to military action in response to further provocations, saying he would not draw "a red line."

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