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Tokyo, Seoul at odds regarding abduction issue in N. Korea talks

Tokyo, Seoul at odds regarding abduction issue in N. Korea talks

South Korea's national security adviser has flown to Washington to meet his newly appointed United States counterpart John Bolton, an official said on Thursday in Seoul, where concerns are growing over the American's hardline stance on the nuclear-armed North. Chung Eui-yong, who personally delivered Kim's summit offer to Trump last month, returned to the USA capital unannounced on Wednesday as the two allies plan their upcoming summits with North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

He expressed hope for Britain's support in resolving issues on the Korean Peninsula as the European country, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, is also seeking dialogue.

Kono, before the Seoul visit, also said he would try to ensure that the "abduction issue will be talked about in the North-South summit", as well as Pyongyang's "nuclear and missile issues".

USA officials confirmed on Sunday that North Korea directly told the White House that Kim would be interested in talks and was prepared to discuss denuclearization at a summit with Trump.

The appointment this week of Mr Bolton - a former United Nations ambassador and strong defender of a USA first-strike option against North Korea - has raised concerns in Seoul over the prospects of the diplomatic thaw on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. -North Korea summit will be the first of its kind in history.

Kono expressed respect for South Korea's diplomatic efforts, and said he hopes to strengthen Japan's partnership with the country and trilateral ties of the 2 and the USA in working to denuclearize the North.

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A Japanese foreign minister last visited the country in December 2015, and this marks Kono's first trip to Seoul since he took the post as Tokyo's top envoy last August.

Moon's administration has found fault with the way the deal was negotiated under his predecessor Park Geun Hye.

In Pyongyang's first mention of official dialogue with the United States and the summit with Seoul, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) added that Kim set "strategic and tactical issues" to be upheld by the Workers' Party. North Korea acknowledged in 2002 that it had abducted 13 Japanese.

Song Tao, the head of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's global department, will lead the mission.

The festival is held in Pyongyang as part of the commemorations for the anniversary of the birth of the North's founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, 1912. -North summit will take place in May or early June.

China has sent art troupes to every festival since 1986, except in 2016.

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