Abe, grappling with domestic scandals, has vowed not to rest until the others return as well, an issue he pressed U.S. President Donald Trump to raise at his June 12 summit in Singapore with Kim.
But while both work to achieve the vague language of Kim's promise to "completely denuclearise the Korean peninsula", America's top United States diplomat refused to put a timeline on negotiations with North Korea contradicting a senior defence official who said Washington would soon present a timeline to North Korea with "specific asks".
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he will not put a timeline on negotiations for North Korea's denuclearization, contradicting a senior defense official who said Washington would soon present a timeline to North Korea with "specific asks".
Speaking to CNN in a telephone interview conducted on Sunday and reported by the network on Monday, Pompeo said he wanted to see continued progress toward North Korean denuclearization and that the administration would regularly assess Pyongyang's seriousness about abandoning its nuclear program. "We hope that we will have an ongoing process of making progress".
Shortly after the June 12 summit in Singapore, a senior defense official told reporters that the USA would present a timeline to North Korea with specific "asks".
Analysts say the rare omission of the United States in North Korean media coverage of the anniversary may be part of the regime's efforts to maintain the current diplomatic momentum.
Pompeo told CNN that Trump's decision to suspend USA military exercises in the region will continue "only so long as there is a good-faith negotiation progress, productive results being achieved".
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As many as 5,300 sets of US service member remains are still somewhere in North Korea , the US Defense Department has said . The state media treatment of Kim's visit departed from past practice of not announcing his travels until Kim returned home.
"It's remarkable", said Peter Ward, a North Korea researcher at Seoul National University.
"We'll know pretty soon if they're going to operate in good faith or not", the official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters.
North Korea is believed to have 170-mm self-propelled artillery guns with a range of almost 40 miles and 240-mm multiple rocket launchers.
More virulent forms of anti-US propaganda have been disappearing from the streets of Pyongyang, while images of missile launches and military formations on a prominent site outside the city train station have been replaced with visuals of industry and agriculture.
Lee's office followed up the statement confirming the artillery issue is being discussed "internally" but it has yet to be raised with the North Koreans. Last week, Tokyo said it would suspend the drills for the time being after the Singapore summit.
"We are optimistic that it will begin", he added, because Kim agreed to it.