Japan asks S. Korea to raise abduction issue at North-South summit

N. Korea's Kim assesses future dialogue with US, Seoul for first time at party meeting – report

Japan is said to be concerned about possibly being sidelined from the current efforts to resolve the issue of the North's nuclear program, which are mostly being led by South Korea and the U.S.

The top diplomats shared the perception that the upcoming inter-Korean summit, ahead of the North Korea-US summit, offers a historic opportunity, an official from Seoul's Foreign Ministry told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

It was the first visit to South Korea by a Japanese foreign minister in more than two years.

The South-North summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is scheduled for April 27 at the truce village of Panmunjom at the inter-Korean border.

South Korea and Japan yesterday vowed to work closely together on North Korea ahead of the looming inter-Korea summit, but their foreign ministers remained divided over long-standing issues of Japan's wartime crimes and disputed islands.

Kono arrived in South Korea late on Tuesday, on his first visit to the country since taking the post in August past year. She emphasized the importance of maintaining the "momentum for dialogue as North Korea has declared it will not conduct any provocations while talks are ongoing". The U.S. -North Korea summit will be the first of its kind in history.

"I pay my respect to the South Korean government's efforts toward the South-North summit and the U.S".

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South Korea and Japan have also locked horns over Seoul-controlled islets in the sea between the two countries called Dokdo in the South and Takeshima in Japan.

In March 2015, former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida canceled plans to pay tribute to South Korea's war dead, as bilateral relations declined between the two countries.

Kono, who has previously met with Kang to discuss cooperation, is expected on Wednesday to request unabated pressure on Pyongyang and even assistance on the issue of abducted Japanese citizens, South Korean news service Newsis reported.

Kang made it clear that Seoul can not accept any claim from Japan to the Dokdo Islets, according to the Foreign Ministry.

However, Dr Gallucci called the move an "intervention on academic freedom" and has said he will send a letter to South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, in protest.

Kang acknowledged that the two neighbors face challenges but said she hopes that they will beef up cooperation in such areas as economy, culture and personnel exchanges that could be mutually beneficial, while building "future-oriented" relations.

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