Sun | Aug 19, 2018

Trump, Abe to meet despite strain over North Korea, tariffs

Published:Wednesday | April 18, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waves with his wife Akie Abe while boarding his plane before departure for the U.S. at Haneda international airport in Tokyo yesterday.

PALM BEACH, Florida (AP):

Top Trump administration officials say that major concessions, including a possible exemption from steel and aluminium tariffs, could be on the table for Japan as President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet in Florida to discuss trade issues and Trump's potential meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Trump is looking to ease the key US ally's concerns over trade policy and the Korea summit as he plays host to Abe this week at his private club in Florida. The White House says the visit will give the leaders an opportunity to discuss Trump's upcoming summit with Kim, which Trump is looking to hold in the next two months.

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 following Trump's recent moves, including his decision not to exempt Japan from new steel and aluminium tariffs.

White House officials suggested that Trump was open to acceding to Abe's hopes to obtain a waiver to the protectionist measure, which went into effect last month. Most other key US allies, including Australia, Canada, the European Union, and Mexico have been granted exemptions.

Issuing Japan the waiver to the Trump-ordered sanctions or opening negotiations on a new trade agreement with Japan are "all on the table," Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said Tuesday. "That's why this is such an important meeting."

Trump welcomed the two days of meetings at his Mar-a-Lago club. "I am in Florida and looking forward to my meeting with Prime Minister Abe of Japan. Working on Trade and Military Security," he tweeted yesterday.

The official visit began yesterday afternoon with a one-on-one meeting followed by a small group discussion with top national security officials focused on the Kim summit. The president and first lady Melania Trump will also have dinner with Abe and his wife.