- President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked to reporters on Wednesday, at the end of a two-day summit in Florida.
- The two leaders played golf and brainstormed on a number of issues like international trade and early diplomatic talks on the Korean Peninsula.
- The meeting comes at a pivotal time for the US, Japan, and North and South Korea, as Trump prepares for nuclear talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
- Separately, Japan is looking for a way into diplomatic talks with the North, after initially being left out of the discussion when rapidly moving developments in the region began earlier this year.
President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked to reporters on Wednesday, at the end of a two-day summit in Florida.
The leaders covered a number of topics, including international trade and early diplomatic talks on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump’s move to penalise some of the US’s trading partners with tariff hikes on imports of certain goods was a top-line issue for both leaders. Trump earlier on Wednesday remarked on what he called a “very big deficit” with Japan.
The president also touted potential new business with the country, saying “I know they’re ordering large numbers of aeroplanes … in the tens of billions of dollars,” Trump said, according to Reuters.
Diplomatic talks on the Korean Peninsula were also top of mind, as the US readies Trump for planned talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Reiterating his administration’s line on the North, Trump said Wednesday that the US would continue a campaign of “maximum pressure” on Kim’s regime.
Trump went a step further: “We have to end nuclear weapons, ideally in all parts of the world,” the US president said. “That would be a goal for all of us to hope for and to cherish.”
Trump pivoted again, saying “I will leave” a face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong Un if the talks are unsuccessful.
Mike Pompeo, the director of the CIA, travelled to North last month to set the tone for a future meeting between Trump and Kim.
South Korean president Moon Jae-in will hold formal talks alongside the North on April 27.
Japan has largely been left out of the diplomatic discussions on the Korean Peninsula, but has sought to elbow its way in. Japanese leaders signalled their interest in a bilateral meeting with the North as early as March, during a time when rapidly-moving developments in the region began in earnest.
A face-to-face gathering with Japanese and North Korean leaders would be the first of its kind since 2004. Abe made clear during his news conference with Trump on Wednesday that engaging with Kim Jong Un should not absolve the regime of its previous aggressions.
“Just because North Korea is responding to dialogue, there should be no reward,” Abe said.
The summit between Trump and Abe this week also served in part to help bolster Abe’s standing among his constituents back home, where he faces dwindling support. His approval ratings have been on a steady decline since he took office in 2012.
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