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Japan held secret talks with N. Korea in July: Washington Post

Japan held secret talks with N. Korea in July: Washington Post

Posted August. 30, 2018 07:28,   

Updated August. 30, 2018 07:28


Japan and North Korea held a “secret” meeting in Vietnam in July without informing the United States, prompting senior U.S. officials to express irritation, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

According to the U.S. daily, the Vietnam talks were held between Shigeru Kitamura, head of Japan’s Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, and Kim Song Hye, a senior North Korean official at the United Front Department of the ruling Korean Workers' Party.

Senior U.S. officials expressed irritation that Japan wasn’t forthright about the meeting, given Washington’s near-constant updates to Tokyo on its dealings with North Korea, the newspaper reported.

Asked to confirm‎ the report on Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “We’re aware of the report, but won’t comment on every single detail in it.” Suga tends to refuse to comment on sensitive issues he cannot deny.

The Washington Post also reported that that during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House in June, U.S. President Donald Trump said, “I remember Pearl Harbor.” Trump made the remark to gain the upper hand in negotiating a bilateral trade deal with. However, Suga flatly denied the report. “There is no such fact,” he told a news briefing.

Abe is in a predicament over Trump’s new approach to North Korea and attack on Japan for the U.S. trade deficit with Japan. When Abe visited Washington in June, Trump spent most of his time with the Japanese prime minister making a blistering critique of Japan’s economic policies and urging Abe to negotiate a bilateral trade deal that is more favorable to the United States.

Young-A Soh sya@donga.com