U.S., Japanese leaders agree to enhance sanctions against North Korea: White House

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands during a bilateral meeting at the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

TAORMINA, Italy (Reuters) - President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on Friday to expand sanctions against North Korea for its continued development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, the White House said in a statement.

"President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agreed their teams would cooperate to enhance sanctions on North Korea, including by identifying and sanctioning entities that support North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear programs," the White House said after the two men held a one-on-one meeting in Sicily.

"They also agreed to further strengthen the alliance between the United States and Japan, to further each country's capability to deter and defend against threats from North Korea," the statement said.

North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threat is seen as a major security challenge for Trump and Abe both. Trump has vowed to prevent the country from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile, a capability experts say Pyongyang could have some time after 2020.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, writing by Steve Scherer; editing by Crispian Balmer)