Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks with reporters on March 9 after a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump. (Takeshi Iwashita)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to meet in the United States early next month, at the earliest, to discuss various issues related to North Korea, including its denuclearization.

The agreement came on March 9 after a South Korean official said in Washington that the U.S. president was prepared to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May.

In their approximately 30-minute telephone conversation, Abe and Trump agreed that maximum pressure would continue to be applied on Pyongyang until it implemented measures to back up its pledge to denuclearize.

After the phone call, Abe spoke with reporters and said, "I want to work even more closely with President Trump to resolve various issues related to North Korea, such as its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs and the abduction of Japanese nationals."

Abe had a positive evaluation of North Korea's change of stance to engage in dialogue on the precondition of abandoning its nuclear weapons program.

He said the change in North Korean policy was the result of the close cooperation between Japan and the United States as well as with South Korea and the international community to apply a high level of pressure on North Korea.

In a separate news conference on March 9, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga disclosed details of the phone conversation between Abe and Trump.

Trump said that he was prepared to meet with Kim Jong Un, and Abe told the U.S. president that there was a need for North Korea to take specific action so that its abandonment of its nuclear weapons program was "complete, verifiable and irreversible."

Trump agreed with the need to continue to implement economic sanctions and apply maximum pressure on North Korea.

Suga said Abe proposed visiting the United States in early April.