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Japan, Mongolia agree to cooperate on N. Korean abduction issue

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga hold talks on the sidelines of a regional economic forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept. 11, 2018. (Pool photo) (Kyodo)

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Kyodo) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga agreed Tuesday to closely cooperate in settling the issue of North Korea's past abductions of Japanese nationals, with Ulan Bator maintaining diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

"We would like to realize peace and stability in the region by responding to various challenges, including the North Korea issue, hand in hand (with Mongolia)," Abe said at the outset of their meeting on the sidelines of a regional economic forum in Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.

Tokyo expects Ulan Bator to play a role as a mediator in resolving the abductions by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

In June, shortly after a historic U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore, Japanese and North Korean officials made informal contact at a security forum in Ulan Bator.

Abe and Battulga confirmed the significance of implementing U.N. Security Council resolutions to press North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami told reporters.

The two leaders also agreed on the need to provide support for nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea, Nogami added.

Battulga explained recent relations between Mongolia and North Korea to Abe, according to Nogami, who declined to elaborate.

Abe also said Japan will continue its economic assistance to Mongolia, including support for infrastructure development, the spokesman said. Mongolia will soon open a new airport in Ulan Bator, which was built with Japanese official development assistance.

Abe and Battulga, who assumed office in July last year, also met in Vladivostok last year.

Dolgorsurengiin Dagvadorj, a Mongolian former sumo grand champion known as Asashoryu, was also present at the meeting in the Russian port city. He has been appointed by the president as a special envoy to promote cooperative ties with Japan.

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