Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh plans to visit Japan next week and will likely hold a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.


Both governments are making arrangements for the meeting at which Abe is expected to seek support from the Mongolian prime minister over resolving the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, the sources said.


During the envisaged meeting, Abe and Khurelsukh are also expected to confirm the importance of fully implementing U.N. sanctions against North Korea to achieve Pyongyang’s denuclearization, according to the sources.


Japan is aiming to bolster coordination with Mongolia, which has close ties with North Korea and enhance information gathering through a series of high-level meetings. Tokyo has expectations for Ulan Bator’s intermediary role in resolving the abduction issue, a top priority for Abe.


When Abe visited Russia for an economic forum in September, he agreed with MongolianPresident Khaltmaa Battulga to cooperate over the abduction issue.


In June, Japanese and North Korean officials met on the fringes of a security forum in Mongolia. It has also been revealed that a top Japanese intelligence official close to Abe secretly met with North Korean officials in early October in Mongolia.


Japan officially lists 17 nationals as having been abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s but alleges their involvement in many more disappearances. Five of the 17 were repatriated in 2002.