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Trump-Kim Summit

Trump promises Abe he'll raise abduction issue with Kim

US leader to visit Japan after imperial succession in May

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe firmed up plans for a state visit by U.S. President Donald Trump to Japan starting May 26. (Photos by Uichiro Kasai, left, and Akira Kodaka)

TOKYO -- U.S. President Donald Trump told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Wednesday he will raise the issue of North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens again in his meeting next week with Northern leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump said he understands the importance Abe places on the issue and that he will make it a priority at the two-day meeting starting next Wednesday in Hanoi, the prime minister told reporters here after the phone call. In their half-hour conversation, the two also agreed to speak again after the summit to discuss the results.

Resolving the cases of Japanese nationals kidnapped by Pyongyang in the 1970s and '80s has been a top priority for Abe, who met with families of abductees on Tuesday. The two leaders agreed to cooperate closely to settle the matter as well as North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

Abe said he hopes next week's summit will help resolve these issues and "lead to peace and stability in East Asia."

The leaders also firmed up plans for a state visit by Trump to Japan starting May 26. The president is likely to be the first foreign leader to meet with the new emperor after Crown Prince Naruhito succeeds Emperor Akihito on May 1.

Wednesday's phone conversation was the first between the Japanese and American leaders since November, after the midterm congressional elections in the U.S. Abe also spoke with Trump on the eve of the first U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore last June, asking him to raise the abduction issue with Kim, and thanked him for doing so in another call just after the talks.

Abe told a parliamentary committee Wednesday that he "trusts" Trump to set the summit's agenda.

"I want to solidly back him up," the prime minister said.

Trump also discussed the summit in a call Tuesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Moon said Seoul is prepared to resume economic cooperation with the North as a "concession" in exchange for steps toward denuclearization, according to the South's presidential Blue House.

Pyongyang seeks the reopening of the jointly run Kaesong industrial complex in the North, which Seoul shut down in 2016 after a missile test, as well as the resumption of South Korean tourism to Mount Kumgang.

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