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Abe, Trump vow to work to stop N. Korea missile launch at Guam

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday he and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed on the importance of working with the international community to prevent North Korea launching ballistic missiles across Japan toward the U.S. territory of Guam.”We shared the awareness that the most important thing is preventing North Korea from going ahead with the launch,” Abe told reporters after holding telephone talks with Trump.


The leaders spoke following North Korea’s threat last week to simultaneously fire four missiles into waters off Guam in the western Pacific.


The flight path suggested by North Korea would take the missiles over Shimane, Hiroshima, Ehime and Kochi prefectures in western Japan.


Abe said the threat of the launch toward Guam “has raised regional tensions unlike ever before.”


He said he affirmed with Trump the importance of Japan and the United States working in close coordination with each other and with South Korea, as well as in cooperation with China, Russia and the rest of the international community.


The White House subsequently said Trump reaffirmed with Abe that “the United States stands ready to defend and respond to any threat or actions taken by North Korea against the United States or its allies, South Korea and Japan.”


According to Japanese Foreign Ministry officials, Abe and Trump agreed in the roughly 30-minute talks that dialogue with North Korea for dialogue’s sake is meaningless and that now is the time for the international community to strengthen its pressure on the country.


Trump told Abe that he made an appeal to Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding North Korea in a phone call on Saturday, and Abe voiced his appreciation of Trump’s efforts, the officials said.


The leaders also hailed the adoption of the latest U.N. Security Council resolution toughening sanctions on North Korea as a highly important step forward, and affirmed the importance of implementing it stringently, according to the officials.


Abe also said he appreciated Trump’s commitment to the safety of U.S. allies.


The leaders agreed to go forward with specific measures to improve Japan-U.S. defense capabilities, according to the Japanese officials.


North Korea test-launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July, prompting Abe and Trump to agree in a phone call on July 31 to take further action against Pyongyang.


Also Tuesday, the Japanese government said Japan’s foreign and defense ministers will leave for Washington the next day to attend a security meeting with their counterparts Thursday.


North Korean issues will be high on the agenda during the “two-plus-two” meeting, the first of its kind since Trump took office in January.


Japan will be represented by Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, and the United States by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.


“Given the extremely tough security situation…we will seek to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance by exchanging opinions on various issues, such as North Korea and the (disputed) South and East China seas,” Onodera told reporters Tuesday.


Onodera and Kono also plan to separately hold talks with their respective counterparts Thursday, the government said.

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