September 3, 2017 10:46 am JST  (Updated September 3, 2017 11:32 am JST)

Abe, Trump vow to 'make North Korea change its policies'

After a telephone talk with U.S. President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a press conference on Sept. 3. © Kyodo

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday he and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed in telephone talks that they need to step up pressure on North Korea to make the country change its policies following a slew of provocative acts including missile launches.

"We completely agreed that we must thoroughly coordinate with each other and with South Korea, and cooperate closely with the international community, to increase pressure on North Korea and make it change its policies," Abe told reporters at his official residence.

It was their third such conversation since North Korea fired a ballistic missile across northern Japan into the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday.

Shortly before the roughly 20-minute telephone call, North Korea's official news service said the country has succeeded in producing a hydrogen bomb that can be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Abe said he and Trump discussed "our analysis of the latest information on North Korea and how we will respond."

A Japanese government spokesman refrained from saying whether Abe's reference to "the latest information" pertained to North Korea's miniaturized hydrogen bomb claim.

North Korea carried out two nuclear tests last year, one of which it said was its first successful test of a hydrogen bomb. It launched two ICBMs in July.

According to Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura, Abe told Trump he welcomed the "strong message sent out" by the U.S. leader's telephone talks with South Korean President Moon Jae In on Friday, in which the two agreed to strengthen trilateral cooperation with Japan on the threat from North Korea.

Trump replied that the United States stands "100 percent" with its ally Japan, and said he looks forward to meeting Abe in New York on the sidelines of U.N. meetings later this month.

Abe and Trump agreed to continue to coordinate on North Korea, including at the United Nations, Nishimura said, with Abe telling Trump he wants to work towards the U.N. Security Council's adoption of a more stringent resolution.

They also confirmed that they will continue to appeal to China and Russia to play more of a role in addressing the threat from North Korea, Nishimura said. Abe is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at a regional forum starting Wednesday in Vladivostok.

The Japanese government's top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said Wednesday that an oil embargo on North Korea is "one of the options" Japan might seek.

But Foreign Minister Taro Kono dampened such speculation on Sunday morning, telling a Japanese television program that an oil embargo "would be close to the last of our options."

An embargo "would require the agreement of China and Russia," both of which are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with economic ties to Pyongyang.

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