Trump to host Japan's Abe at Florida resort amid strain over North Korea, tariffs

Trump to host Japan's Abe at Florida resort amid strain over North Korea, tariffs
From CBC - April 17, 2018

Donald Trump will play host to JapanesePrime Minister Shinzo Abe at theMar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach,Fla., this week amid growing strain between the two countries over the U.S. president's planned meeting with North Korean leaderKim Jong-un and his push for new tariffs.

The visit will be an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss Trump's upcoming summit with North Korea,which Japan eyes warily. It will also serve as a test of whether the fond personal relationship the two leaders have forged on the golf course and over meetings and phone calls has chilled over Trump's recent moves, including his failure to exempt Japan from new steel and aluminum tariffs.

"We expect it to be very positive," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday of Abe's visit. "Obviously, the president has got a great relationship there, and it's going to be centred primarily on preparation for talks with North Korea as well as a lot of trade discussion is expected to come up."

The official visit will begin Tuesday afternoon with a one-on-one meeting followed by a small group discussion with top national security officials focused on the Kim summit. In the evening, the president and his wifeMelania Trump will have dinner with the Japanese prime minister and his wife, Akie.

On Wednesday, the topic will broaden to other issues affecting the Indo-Pacific region, including trade and energy. Trump and Abe will also hold a joint news conference before the Trumps host the Japanese delegations for dinner. Abe will return to Japan on Thursday morning.

Golf is not on the official schedule, but senior administration officials did not rule it out completely. Trump and Abe played together during Abe's last trip to Florida a year ago and during Trump's maiden trip to Japan late last year.

When Trump hosted Abe at his private Mar-a-Lago club just weeks after his inauguration, North Korea launched its first missile test of Trump's administration, and the two delivered a joint statement denouncing the launch.

This time, Abe's visit will comeweeks after Trump took himand the regionby surprise when he announced he had accepted an invitation to sit down with Kim following months of increasingly heated rhetoric over the North's nuclear weapons program.

Left out on North Korea

Among the major powers in Northeast Asia, Japan has been left out of the recent flurry of diplomacy with North Korea. Abe will be seeking reassurance from Trump that security threats to Japan wo not be overlooked in the U.S.-North Korea summit, slated for May or early June.

Mike Pompeo, Trump's pick for secretary of state, said the goal of the summit is to get North Korea to "step away from its efforts to hold America at risk with nuclear weapons."

Abe will want to reinforce the idea that maximum pressure must continue until we get complete denuclearization.- James Schoff,Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Abe has voiced fears that short- and medium-range missiles that pose a threat to Japan might not be part of the U.S. negotiations, and has said he worries Trump may "end up accepting North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons."

James Schoff, a former Pentagon adviser on East Asia policy and now a senior associate for the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the North Korea summit will be front and centre duringthe visit.

'Constant contact'


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