Abe takes rare step meeting Trump

Koichi Nakamura/ The Yomiuri Shimbun

A media scrum waits in front of Trump Tower in New York on Thursday evening.

By Kazunori Hakkaku / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterNEW YORK — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe became the first world leader to hold one-on-one talks with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump when the two met in New York on Thursday.

Abe took the unusual step of meeting a foreign leader who had yet to officially assume the post in an attempt to swiftly build a relationship of trust and erase unease, at a time when uncertainty is swirling around the future direction of the Japan-U.S. alliance as Trump gears up to launch his administration in January.

Global attention was focused on the meeting marking Trump’s “diplomatic debut,” and many media crews from various countries packed the area in front of Trump Tower.

After the talks, a visibly pleased Abe told reporters he was satisfied with the 90-minute meeting — twice the initially scheduled length.

“President-elect Trump kindly set aside time during this very busy period with staffing decisions,” Abe said.

Abe mentioned the word “trust” four times and made no attempt to disguise his satisfaction over the results of the meeting.

“I think the prime minister has a better rapport with Mr. Trump than he does with President [Barack] Obama, who is more businesslike,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

However, Abe refused to divulge details of what was discussed during the meeting.

A source inside the Prime Minister’s Office said, “It would be rude to the Obama administration if the prime minister discusses matters in-depth with Mr. Trump.”

In addition to building an individual relationship between Abe and Trump, the Japanese government is scrambling to create connections with members of Trump’s transition team. Katsuyuki Kawai, a special adviser to the prime minister, and Takeo Akiba, deputy minister for foreign affairs, have visited the United States, and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida was scheduled to arrive in New York on Friday for talks with members of the transition team.

Abe press conference remarks

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke about these topics during his press conference after meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump:

Relationship of trust

“President-elect Trump kindly set aside time during this very busy period with staffing decisions. I believe we were able to truly talk at length and extensively in a frank and candid manner. The meeting took place in a very warm atmosphere. It gave me confidence that the two of us can build a relationship of trust.”

Meeting content

“I shared my basic views with Mr. Trump. We discussed a variety of issues. I would like to refrain from commenting on the details as the president-elect has not yet been officially inaugurated as president, and furthermore, this was an informal meeting. We agreed to meet again at a mutually convenient time to have a broader and more in-depth discussion.”

Japan-U.S. alliance

“I cannot answer questions about the specifics of the meeting. In any case, our alliance will not function without trust. I came away convinced that President-elect Trump is a leader who can be trusted.”Speech

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