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Japan, Mongolia urge North Korea to stop missile, nuclear activities

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, and Mongolian President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh issue a joint statement after their talks at the Japanese premier's office in Tokyo on Nov. 29, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The leaders of Japan and Mongolia on Tuesday urged North Korea to stop its missile and nuclear activities, with Pyongyang repeatedly firing ballistic missiles amid growing concern that it could conduct a nuclear test.

    In a joint statement issued after their meeting in Tokyo, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Mongolian President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh called on Pyongyang to "comply with" U.N. Security Council resolutions on peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

    The leaders of Japan and Mongolia, which has diplomatic relations with North Korea, also demanded that Pyongyang "immediately resolve" the issue of its abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Having no diplomatic ties with the nuclear-armed country, Tokyo has often looked to Ulaanbaatar to act as a mediator with Pyongyang in dealing with the long-standing abduction issue.

    North Korea has conducted missile tests more than 30 times since the start of this year, launching suspected cruise and ballistic missiles. Speculation has also been mounting that Pyongyang may carry out its seventh nuclear test, the first since September 2017.

    Since 2006, U.N. Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea have obliged the nation to abandon its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

    On Tuesday, Kishida and Khurelsukh also agreed that promoting a "free and open" international order has become more important than ever and any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force should not be tolerated in any region.

    The leaders met as tensions between China and the United States have been escalating over self-ruled democratic Taiwan, which the Communist-led government under President Xi Jinping regards as a province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

    As for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Kishida and Khurelsukh voiced "concern about the tough situation" in Ukraine, although they refrained from criticizing Moscow by name in their joint statement.

    Mongolia, an inland country sandwiched by China and Russia, has long been highly dependent on the two big powers for energy and trade, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

    Khurelsukh, who arrived in Tokyo earlier Tuesday, is scheduled to meet with Emperor Naruhito on Wednesday and visit Kyoto before leaving Japan on Friday.

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