Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe gives his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 25. (Takeshi Iwashita)

NEW YORK--Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shifted his stance of applying pressure on North Korea to holding dialogue with Pyongyang in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly here on Sept. 25.

“Breaking the mold of mutual distrust with North Korea, I am prepared to make a fresh start and come face to face with Chairman Kim Jong Un,” Abe said. “I will do all I can to remove the long-standing postwar structure from Northeast Asia.”

With Pyongyang refraining from launching ballistic missiles and conducting nuclear tests, Abe said: “I am holding the biggest interest in changes in North Korea. Now, North Korea is at a crossroads, where it can seize a historic opportunity or miss it.”

In his speech last year at the U.N. General Assembly, Abe urged the international community to continue putting the squeeze on North Korea, saying, “What’s necessary is not dialogue but pressure.”

But since then, the United States and South Korea have increased talks with North Korea on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Abe also referred to Japan-Russia relations in this year’s speech.

“We must resolve the territorial issue and conclude a peace treaty,” he said. “With a peace treaty in place, peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia will obtain a firmer foundation.”

Tokyo and Moscow both claim sovereignty over four islands off eastern Hokkaido that were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.

On the possibility of a trade dispute with the U.S. Trump administration, Abe emphasized Japan’s contribution to the U.S. economy, saying that Japanese direct investments have produced more than 850,000 jobs in the United States.

“I want to maintain a win-win relationship between Japan and the United States,” he said.