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Moon, Abe agree to peaceful solution to North Korea’s provocations

President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday agreed to work together to pressure North Korea and seek a peaceful resolution to nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula, Cheong Wa Dae said.

The two leaders reaffirmed their stance that they would watch closely and analyze provocative actions from North Korea and cooperate with international society, in a 30-minute conversation by phone from 10:40 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Yonhap)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Yonhap)

“They agreed to promote close relationships -- between Seoul and Tokyo and also with the United States -- to ultimately settle the nuclear issue by peaceful means, including dialogue,” presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said at a press briefing.

Moon and Abe shared opinions on the bilateral relationship and said they would encourage various events to develop stronger ties, such as by reinforcing the parliamentary union of lawmakers.

During the phone call, Abe is said to have expressed concerns over Moon’s previous remarks on the issue of the forced labor of South Koreans during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule.

In a press conference celebrating his 100th day in office on Aug. 17, Moon said that any deal made by governments cannot trample the rights of individual victims.

Since 2000, 14 wartime compensation suits have been filed against Japanese firms involved in the country’s wartime aggression in Korea, with four cases still pending at Korea’s top court.

Moon explained over the phone that while he understands some of the issues were settled via national treaties, such as the 1965 Seoul-Tokyo treaty, the Constitutional Court’s ruling may focus the case on the company and the victims.

Moon added he did not want the issue to hinder relationship between the two countries, and Abe agreed, an official from the presidential office said.

Later in the day, Japan announced fresh sanctions against North Korea, freezing the assets of Chinese and Namibian companies and individuals for continuing business ties with North Korea.

The new list -- four Chinese and two Namibian companies as well as two individuals from the respective countries -- adds to the current 66 companies and 79 individuals subject to Japanese sanctions over their connections with North Korea.

The announcement came after the US announced new sanctions on 10 companies and six individuals from China, Russia, Singapore, Namibia and North Korea on Tuesday.

Friday’s phone conversation was the fourth between the two, upon the request of the Japanese prime minister on Aug. 15. Abe first called Moon to congratulate him on his inauguration on May 11.

Moon and Abe will hold a summit again during their visit to Vladivostok, Russia, where they will be for the Eastern Economic Forum from Sept. 6 to 7, the spokesman said.

By Jo He-rim (