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North Korea

Japan and North Korea held secret meeting in Vietnam in July and didn’t tell Trump, report claims

The reported meeting between officials Shigeru Kitamura and Kim Song-hye came amid concern in Tokyo that the US was failing to represent its concerns to Pyongyang

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2018, 7:55am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2018, 7:55am

Japan and North Korea had a secret meeting in Vietnam in July without informing the United States, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The talks were held between Shigeru Kitamura, head of Japan’s Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, and a senior North Korean official in charge of reunification, Kim Song-hye, the newspaper said.

Senior US officials expressed irritation that Japan was not forthright about the meeting, despite Washington’s near-constant updates to Tokyo on its dealings with North Korea, it said.

What North Korean defectors can’t say about the Kim regime

Officials in Tokyo have acknowledged that to negotiate the return of Japanese abductees in North Korea, they cannot rely solely on the United States to lobby on Japan’s behalf, according to the paper.

US President Donald Trump said after a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June that he had raised the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals. But the joint statement issued by the leaders did not touch on human rights in North Korea, and nor did it mention the abductions.

Tokyo had asked Trump to take up with Kim the issue involving Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s. Pyongyang claims the matter has been settled.

The decades-old issue remains a stumbling block for Japan and North Korea to normalise diplomatic ties.