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Abe, Trump reaffirm plan to maximize pressure on North Korea

Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe - 6 November 2017

President Donald Trump (left) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a joint news conference at the Akasaka Palace, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Tokyo. Trump is on a five-country trip through Asia traveling to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. (Pool photo by KIYOSHI OTA via AP)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump reaffirmed that Japan and the United States would take the initiative to exert maximum pressure on North Korea, at a bilateral meeting held Monday at the State Guest House in Tokyo’s Motoakasaka district.

On the economic front, Trump expressed strong dissatisfaction over trade with Japan at a meeting with Japanese and US business leaders held ahead of the bilateral talks, saying, “Right now our trade with Japan is not fair and open.”

Attention is focused on what approach the United States plans to take on reducing the nation’s trade deficit with Japan, as a gulf remains between the two nations on economic matters.

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At the meeting with business leaders held at the official residence of US Ambassador William Hagerty in Tokyo, Trump expressed his willingness to enter negotiations on a free trade agreement with Japan.

Trumpsaid the United States and Japan are capable of quickly reaching a fair agreement, and that he is optimistic.

In October’s Japan-US economic dialogue held between Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and US Vice President Mike Pence, the United States expressed enthusiasm about starting FTA negotiations.

Trump was thought to have mentioned the FTA during Monday’s bilateral meeting, which Aso also attended.

About 40 business leaders, including Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. Chairman Yoshimitsu Kobayashi and Masayoshi Son, chairman and president of SoftBank Group Corp., attended the meeting at Hagerty’s official residence.

Atthe opening of a working lunch that started shortly after noon at the State Guest House, Abe said to Trump: “Let’s have frank discussions on various global issues, particularly North Korea.”

Trumpreplied that he is willing to discuss issues regarding trade, North Korea and military affairs.

During the summit meeting held later, Abe told Trump about Japan’s policy of expanding the scope of asset freezing as part of Japan’s own sanctions against North Korea, in an effort to take actions in concert with the United States.

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Abe and Trump were thought to have talked about the US intention to re-list North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. The United States will likely make a decision soon.

The two leaders agreed that they will ask China and Russia for their cooperation to make North Korea stop its development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

Abe and Trump also discussed maritime affairs. Under

the policy of the “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy,” in which rules of law and freedom of navigation are advocated, the two leaders intend to deepen cooperation among four countries that share common values — Japan, the United States, India and Australia.

The plan aims to keep in check the movements of China, which is working to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean, the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

Monday’s bilateral talks were the fifth meeting between Abe and Trump this year, and the first since the two met in New York in September.

Trump will leave Japan on Tuesday and is set to visit South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

On the sidelines of a summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to be held in Vietnam, Trump is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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