April 24, 2017 12:05 pm JST

Trump, Abe reaffirm united front against Pyongyang

Leaders speak by phone on eve of North Korean military anniversary

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Monday morning to discuss North Korea, ahead of a key anniversary for Pyongyang.

Tuesday is the Korean People's Army's 85th anniversary, and there is concern the North will carry out a nuclear test or launch missiles to mark the occasion.

Abe and Trump reaffirmed their commitment to bilateral cooperation on North Korea, and resolved to demand that Pyongyang refrain from escalating tensions further. After the call, Abe told reporters he is grateful for Trump's willingness to confront the threat.

Abe and Trump last spoke by phone on April 9. A Japanese government official said Monday's talks were intended to increase pressure on North Korea.

Tokyo and Washington are particularly concerned about a sixth North Korean nuclear test. The U.S. has made it clear that all options are on the table, including a military response. 

In a show of force, two escort vessels from Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force recently conducted joint training with an American strike group, including the USS Carl Vinson nuclear carrier, which is now heading toward the Korean Peninsula. 

The Rodong Sinmun newspaper of the Workers' Party of Korea said these moves are tantamount to declaring nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.

A Japanese government official cautioned that "there is no guarantee that increased pressure will deter North Korea from carrying out a nuclear test."

(Nikkei)

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