Moon, Abe agree to co-operate on North Korea

Japanese officials have described the first telephone call between new South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe as "positive and meaningful", with the two agreeing to cooperate closely to deal with North Korea.

Moon said in his first speech as president he would begin efforts to defuse security tensions on the Korean peninsula and negotiate with Washington and Beijing to ease a row over a USA missile defence system being deployed in the South. The conversations were dominated by how to respond to North Korea's rapidly developing nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which are in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

He told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday the resolution of the North Korea issue "must be comprehensive and sequential, with pressure and sanctions used in parallel with negotiations".

The THAAD deployment was agreed upon by Moon's predecessor, conservative leader Park Guen-hye.

Beijing also has its own issues with Seoul.

He also said he was prepared to go to Pyongyang "if the conditions are right".

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Moon assumed presidential duties early Wednesday after the National Election Commission finished counting Tuesday's votes and declared him the victor of the special election necessitated by the ousting of conservative Park Geun-hye, whose downfall and jailing on corruption charges is one of the most turbulent stretches in the nation's recent political history.

But former USA officials held two days of informal talks in Oslo, Norway, this week with a Pyongyang delegation led by Choe Son Hui, a senior diplomat for North America.

But the new administration's conciliatory attitude toward North Korea may open up rifts with regional partners. On Thursday, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said North Korea posed "a very significant, potentially existential threat to the United States that has to be addressed".

North Korea says it needs its weapons to defend itself against the United States which it says has pushed the region to the brink of nuclear war.

But Abe also said "dialogue for dialogue's sake would be meaningless" and he called on North Korea to demonstrate "sincere and concrete action", Hagiuda said, adding that Moon shared Abe's views.

Xi said China was willing to handle disputes with South Korea "appropriately" on the basis of mutual trust and understanding. Moon has expressed hoped that South Korea could emerge from peace between the two Koreas as a leading player in East Asian security and economic diplomacy.

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