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Japan PM hails N. Korea talks on basis of denuclearization

TOKYO, March 9, 2018 (BSS/AFP) - Japan's prime minister on Friday welcomed the surprise announcement of a summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un by May.

"I highly appreciate North Korea's change that it will begin talks on the premise of denuclearisation," Shinzo Abe said, adding that he planned to visit the United States to meet Trump "as early as April".

Japan has been cautious about a recent Olympics-driven rapprochement on the Korean peninsula, with Abe warning as recently as Thursday that "talks for the sake of talks are meaningless."

But he sounded a positive note on the planned Trump-Kim summit, hailing it as "the achievement of cooperation between... Japan, the US, and South Korea to maintain great pressure".

"There is no change in policy for Japan and the United States," he added.

"We will keep putting maximum pressure (on North Korea) until North Korea takes concrete actions toward denuclearisation in a manner that is perfect, verifiable and irreversible.