After meeting with Abe, Suh Hoon, chief of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, said to reporters he told the prime minister that the mood surrounding North Korea’s denuclearization has been “improving” after small twists and turns. Suh was one of the envoys who met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang last week.

The intelligence agency chief briefed Abe “in detail” on the outcome of the South Korean delegation’s recent visit to the North, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Abe shared Suh’s view that it would be “most desirable” for solving various issues if bilateral talks between Tokyo and Pyongyang follow the North’s ongoing dialogues with Seoul and Washington, the South Korean official told reporters.

The prime minister has expressed willingness to hold direct talks with North Korea in the hope of making a breakthrough in resolving the long-standing issue of Japanese nationals abducted by the North in the 1970s and 1980s.