Donald Trump, Shinzo Abe to meet amid US leader’s pledge of ‘ironclad’ support

Shinzo Abe meeting Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, Nov 17, 2016.
Shinzo Abe meeting Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, Nov 17, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Donald Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on Saturday (Jan 28) to a face-to-face meeting next month, as the US president pledged his “ironclad commitment” to Tokyo’s security.

The two leaders, who agreed to meet in Washington on Feb 10, agreed to work together to counter the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program and deepen bilateral trade and investment, the White House said in a statement.

They discussed the importance of the US-Japan alliance, and Trump “affirmed the ironclad US commitment to ensuring the security of Japan.”

Trump’s conversation with the Japanese leader kicked off a busy day in which the president was also to speak with the leaders of Australia, France, Germany and Russia.

The chat with Abe came days after Trump formally withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a vast trade deal encompassing a dozen nations that Abe has backed enthusiastically.

US participation is seen as key to the agreement and Abe has said he would keep trying to convince Trump of its merits. The trade deal was negotiated under former president Barack Obama. Trump yanked the deal before the US Congress was able to consider ratification.

Abe was the first world leader to meet the US president-elect in New York, visiting Trump just nine days after Americans voted him into office in a surprise victory.

The meeting stirred controversy when Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, a former model and current business executive with no formal role in Trump’s presidency, was seen in attendance.