January 13, 2018 9:44 pm JST

Japan, Latvia to cooperate in adding pressure on North Korea

PM Abe turns up the heat on Pyongyang through talks with foreign leaders

RIGA (Kyodo) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Latvian counterpart Maris Kucinski agreed Saturday to cooperate in adding pressure on North Korea to give up its pursuit of nuclear and missile capabilities.

The two leaders also affirmed in their meeting in the Latvian capital Riga the need to promote economic ties by taking advantage of Latvia's position as a logistics center in the Baltic region, Japanese officials said.

As Abe called for a tough approach to Kim Jong Un's regime, Kucinski said at a joint press conference that he "shares the same view" on the importance to press North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

The Japanese premier is trying to step up pressure on Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear ambitions through talks with foreign leaders.

Abe and Kucinski also agreed on the need to maintain maritime order based on the rule of law amid China's assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.

They affirmed a plan for Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis to visit Japan in February to promote discussions on security.

Abe and Kucinski discussed strengthening relations between Japan and the Baltic states, including Estonia and Lithuania, the officials said. The four countries will aim to hold the first round of dialogue later in 2018 or early in 2019.

Abe arrived in Latvia -- the first Japanese prime minister to visit the country -- for the second leg of his six-nation European tour following Estonia.

He will also travel to Lithuania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania during his six-day trip.

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