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Former DPRK diplomat: Japan-DPRK summit possible in second half of this year

NHK reported on Thursday evening on an interview conducted earlier in the day with Thae Yong-ho, a former deputy chief of mission at the North Korean Embassy in London who defected to South Korea in 2016. Thae indicated that in light of Prime Minister Abe’s proposal to hold “unconditional” talks with the DPRK’s Kim Jong Un, a bilateral summit could take place in the second half of this year, possibly before another North-South summit or U.S.-DPRK summit. According to Thae, Kim’s thinking is that North Korea will be able to “consolidate its strategic position in the region” by talking with Abe. He said that following North Korea’s completion of its development of nuclear arms, Kim has met with the leaders of China, the U.S., the ROK, and Russia. Since Japan is the only country left, Kim believes that meeting with Abe will complete this process, said Thae. Commenting on the abduction issue, he pointed out that since Kim Jong Un’s father had already acknowledged the abductions, it’s easier for him to handle this issue. He predicted that Kim will take an approach similar to his approach to the nuclear issue and resolve it in stages, so it is possible that North Korea may return a few abductees at a time in exchange for food and other humanitarian aid.

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