U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have affirmed that their two countries can not engage in dialogue with North Korea until the North abandons its nuclear and missile programs.
This was the leaders' first call since February 2. "A dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless".
Japanese media reported that Abe took up the abductee issue and raised the topic of North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes with Kim Yong Nam.
It came amid concern in Tokyo that the thaw between the two Koreas could compromise efforts to maximize diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang and lead to the start of dialogue on North Korea's terms, leading to effective acceptance of the state as a nuclear power.
"The important thing is whether the visit is expected to help make progress" toward North Korea's denuclearization, Abe told a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting.
A reporter asked about the role of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his desire for talks with the North.
Japan is doubling down on its united front with the U.S, partly on concerns about South Korea's overtures to the North. A senior government official said later that Abe and Trump shared an understanding of the importance of U.S.
Spokeswoman Heather Nauert backed Vice President Mike Pence's remarks that the United States could use both "maximum pressure" and "engagement" regarding North Korea and its rogue nuclear program.
Relations between South Korea and North Korea have warmed rapidly in recent weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's Day address that the country was willing to participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Pence said the US will continue to intensify its sanctions on the regime and will not lift them until the North starts that process.