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Abe, Trump agree to keep calling for self-restraint by N. Korea

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald
Trump agreed in telephone talks Monday morning to keep urging North
Korea, which continues to pursue nuclear weapon and ballistic missile
development, to exercise self-restraint.

"I had an in-depth exchange of views with President Trump about
the situation in North Korea," Abe told reporters after the leaders'
third such conversation this month.

"We completely agreed to strongly seek self-restraint from North
Korea, which is still continuing its dangerous provocative acts," Abe
said at the prime minister's office.

North Korea is thought to be preparing to conduct further
test-firings of missiles or a sixth nuclear test, possibly around the
85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army on
Tuesday.

"The issue of North Korea's nuclear and missile (development) is
an extremely grave threat to security, not just for the international
community but also for Japan," Abe said.

The leaders also agreed in their roughly 30-minute talks that
China has an important role in handling North Korea, and that they
will ask China to play an even greater role, according to a Japanese
government official.

Trump also had a telephone conversation with Chinese President
Xi Jinping on the situation in North Korea, China's official Xinhua
News Agency said

The Japanese official said Abe and Trump had Tuesday's
anniversary in mind when they arranged in advance to hold their
talks. But the official refrained from revealing the leaders'
specific concerns about what the anniversary might bring.

Abe also told Trump that he strongly endorses the U.S. leader's
position that all options, including military action, are "on the
table" in dealing with North Korea's pursuit of development of
ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, which violates U.N. Security
Council resolutions.

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and U.S. Navy began
Sunday joint strategic maneuver and communication drills involving
two Japanese destroyers and the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson,
which is headed for waters off the Korean Peninsula.

There had been confusion over the exact timing of the move
northward to the Sea of Japan by the Carl Vinson Strike Group, which
includes the aircraft carrier, two guided-missile destroyers and a
cruiser, following a U.S. Navy announcement on April 8 that
conflicted with subsequent reports.

"We will keep dealing with (the issue) by continuing to
coordinate closely with the United States and maintaining advanced
surveillance and warning readiness," Abe said.

North Korea has said it is in the final stages of developing an
intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit mainland U.S.
targets. Targets in Japan are within range of its shorter-range
missiles, but their test-firing history has been checkered with
failures.

The leaders did not specifically discuss Monday what their
response would be in the event of another nuclear test or missile
launch, but reaffirmed that they will work together in responding to
any situation, the Japanese official said.

During a visit to Tokyo last week, U.S. Vice President Mike
Pence said on Trump's behalf that the United States is with Japan
"100 percent" in "these challenging times."

Pence reiterated the stance that the era of "strategic patience"
advocated by Trump's predecessor Barack Obama is over, and that while
the United States and Japan both "seek peace always," that peace
"comes through strength." (April 24)