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Abe welcomes North Korea's decision to halt nuclear, missile tests.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday welcomed North Korea's decision to halt its nuclear and missile tests and shut down its nuclear test ahead of its planned summits with South Korea and the United States, local media reported.

Earlier in the day, North Korea announced that the country will suspend nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and shut down the Punggye-ri nuclear test site located in the northern area of the reclusive country.

The move comes as North Korea is planning to hold summits with South Korea and the United States, with denuclearization likely to top the agendas to be discussed during the historic talks.

Japanese media quoted Abe as calling the latest development "positive," but cautioned that it remains to be seen whether the action would lead to a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of the North's nuclear program.

"We will surely pay close attention," he said.

He made clear that Japan and the U.S. discussed their coordinated approach against various possibilities regarding the North during their recent summit talks in Florida. He also promised to maintain close cooperation with South Korea and the U.S. in dealing with the North's nuclear issue going forward.

Meanwhile, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera provided a critical assessment of the North's latest action, saying that it "can't be satisfied" as Pyongyang did not mention the abandonment of its short- and mid-range missiles capable of hitting Japan.

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Publication:The Korea Times News (Seoul, Korea)
Geographic Code:9SOUT
Date:Apr 21, 2018
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