The Yomiuri ShimbunPrime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday left for the United States to hold two-day talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in an apparent effort to coordinate and show unity in the run-up to a meeting between the leaders of the United States and North Korea that is expected to be held by early June.
The United States’ possible return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement may also be put on the agenda.
“I’d like to confirm a stance to maintain the maximum level of pressure on North Korea toward the realization of its abandonment of nuclear and missile programs,” Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office before departing Haneda Airport for the United States on a government airplane.
“I also want to make every possible effort for the abduction issue to make progress ahead of the U.S.-North Korea summit talks,” he added.
Abe’s visit to the United States will be the first since he visited New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly meeting in September last year. This will be his sixth summit talks with Trump.
The two leaders are scheduled to hold three meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday (Wednesday and Thursday in Japan) and have dinner twice at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
They plan to play golf together on Wednesday, as they did in February last year when Abe visited the United States, and in November when Trump visited Japan.
North Korean issues were expected to top the agenda of their talks on Tuesday. At some point, they plan to speak alone except for interpreters. Abe intends to ask Trump to bring up the abduction issue during his talks with the North Korean leader.
Their talks on Wednesday likely will focus on trade issues. Toshimitsu Motegi, minister in charge of economic revitalization and responsible for the TPP, is expected to attend the talks.
As Trump has instructed his administration staff to look into conditions for rejoining the TPP, Abe is expected to urge him to launch talks with an eye on a U.S. return to the multilateral trade framework, while calling on him to exclude Japan from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Trump may call for the TPP to be renegotiated and the launch of negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with Japan. Negotiations between the two leaders could be intense.
U.S. expects ‘positive’ talks
By Michitaka Kaiya / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent
PALM BEACH, Fla. — White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday the upcoming talks between the Japanese and U.S. leaders are expected to be “very positive.”
Sanders said that cooperation between Japan and the United States toward a U.S.-North Korea summit meeting as well as trade issues are likely to top the agenda for the two-day talks on Tuesday and Wednesday.
She spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One heading to Florida, where U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Sanders said Trump “wants to make sure we have good trade deals.”