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N Korea at crossroads

Kim 'ready' to talk with Japan, Moon tells Abe

North Korean leader open to improving relations, at an appropriate time

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.   © Kyodo

NEW YORK -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is "ready for dialogue" with Japan to seek better relations with its neighbor, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, relaying a message from Kim.

The nearly hourlong meeting here between Moon and Abe on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly followed Moon's third summit with Kim, held during a three-day visit to Pyongyang last week.

According to the South Korean side, Moon told Abe that Kim had said North Korea is "ready for dialogue with Japan at an appropriate time to seek improved relations."

Speaking to reporters before his meeting with Abe, Moon said he had "faithfully conveyed the prime minister's message to Chairman Kim" and had "received an answer."

Abe had asked Moon to relay to Kim the importance Japan places on resolving decades-old abductions of Japanese citizens and the prime minister's views on bilateral relations, according to the Japanese government. Tokyo has not said how Kim responded to the message.

Abe thanked Moon, said he too is open to direct dialogue with Kim, and asked for South Korea's cooperation in resolving the abductions -- cases that North Korea has in the past described as closed with nothing further to discuss.

Abe and Moon agreed to continue to work together and with their mutual ally the U.S. to persuade North Korea to take actions toward complete denuclearization.

Abe has said in the past that he is willing to meet with Kim under the right conditions. U.S. President Donald Trump reiterated to reporters at the U.N. on Tuesday that he is preparing to hold a second summit with the North Korean leader.

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