Abe commends Trump for agreeing to summit with Kim Jong-un

Abe commends Trump for agreeing to summit with Kim Jong-un

Abe commends Trump for agreeing to summit with Kim Jong-un

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has commended US President Donald Trump’s “courage” in agreeing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a summit.

He was speaking at the start of a visit to Mr Trump at his retreat in Florida, where the two men are also expected to discuss trade.

There have been fears in Tokyo that Mr Trump’s plans for bilateral talks could sideline Japan, a key US ally.

Relations between the two men appeared cordial.

It is the second time Mr Trump has welcomed Mr Abe to his Mar-a-Lago resort and it is probable they will fit in another round of golf, a shared passion.

It is a break for the two men who are both battling pressure at home, with Mr Abe facing cronyism claims while Mr Trump is fighting allegations of election meddling by Russia in his favour.

A special relationship?

“Japan and ourselves are locked and we are very unified on the subject of North Korea,” Mr Trump said.

“We will probably be, depending on various meetings and conversations, we’ll be having meetings with Kim Jong-un very soon. It’ll be taking place probably in early June or a little before that.”

Five locations are being considered for the historic meeting, he said without giving details.

The Japanese prime minister has repeatedly sought to portray a close personal relationship with Mr Trump and was the first foreign leader to meet him in New York after his election victory in 2016.

Apart from Florida, the pair have met in Japan.

But Washington’s policies since then have put pressure on what is meant to be a special relationship.

On North Korea, Mr Trump surprised the international community by accepting Pyongyang’s suggestion for direct talks.

While details of those talks are still uncertain, it is an unprecedented step by a sitting president to meet a North Korean leader.

Observers say Mr Abe’s goal for his US trip will be to persuade the US president as much as he can not to sway from the West’s hard line on Pyongyang.

What do the two want in trade terms?

Mr Abe wants exemptions from Mr Trump’s recent steel and aluminium tariffs but President Trump is unhappy with Japanese trade practices and is expected to press for concessions.

The Trump administration’s America First policy has already led to Washington leaving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

However, late last week Mr Trump suddenly floated the idea of maybe joining the TPP after all.

What pressures are Trump and Abe under?

Mr Trump is engulfed in the Russia investigations and allegations over affairs with adult actresses and models.

James Comey, the FBI director he sacked, described him this week as “morally unfit to be president”.

The Japanese prime minister is accused of cronyism in a corruption scandal dating back to 2017.

Last month, Mr Abe told parliament that he had not played any role in the alleged cover-up of a sale of government land.

His largest asset has for a long time been that Japanese voters saw him as carrying reliable weight on the international stage.

Should the US visit not help to counter that perception, the calls for his resignation are likely to get louder.

Source: BBC

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