U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that he viewed recent North Korean missile firings "differently" than Japan due to the absence of North Korean nuclear testing for the past two years.
After Japan's premier said Trump supported his endeavor to engage with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, Trump urged Kim to denuclearize the country.
Addressing a news conference alongside Abe Shinzo, Trump said denuclearization of the Korean peninsula would transform the "impoverished country," Seoul-based Yonhap news Agency reported.
"Only bad can happen with his nuclear arms," Trump said.
Contradicting Trump, Abe remarked moments later that a launch of North Korean short-range ballistic missiles on May 9 was a "violation of Security Council resolutions."
"It is of great regret," he added, reported Japanese Kyodonews news agency.
U.S. Presidential security advisor John Bolton said in Tokyo last week that there was "no doubt" the launch of ballistic missiles was a violation of UN resolutions.
However, North Korea slammed Bolton for his remarks calling him "war maniac".
Trump is currently on a four-day state visit to Japan where he met Abe as well as the new Japanese emperor Naruhito, and holding trade and other bilateral negotiations.
He has held two summits with Kim since June 2018, but there has been no tangible step towards denuclearization on the peninsula. Pyongyang blames Washington for talks breaking down between the two countries.
When asked about Pyongyang's missile launch, Trump said he viewed recent missile test launches "differently".
He said that during his negotiations with Kim, there had been "no nuclear and long-range missile tests".
"Very importantly, there has been no nuclear testing for two years. I looked at the chart the other day. During the past administrations, there were many numbers that were very high, like 10, 12 and 18, having to do with missile launches and nuclear testing," he said.
"For the last two years, at the bottom it had zero and zero. So, I am very happy the way it's going and intelligence people agree with it," he added.
Trump said that he hoped Kim "seizes the opportunity to transform his country through denuclearization”.
“It is a country with tremendous economic and other potentials," he said.
Trump also reiterated that he was "in no rush at all" to return to talks with Kim
"I think he is going to try at some point [to denuclearize] -- I am in no rush at all. Sanctions remain. We have our hostages back. We, as you know, [are] continuing to get the remains [of fallen U.S. troops]. A lot of good things are happening," he said.
Separately, in a meeting with families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, Trump vowed cooperation with Abe to secure their return.
"We will be working together to bring your relatives, your daughters, your sons, your mothers home," Trump said in the meeting in Tokyo.
By Riyaz ul Khaliq