Abe says he sought com­mon goals, not dif­fer­ences with Trump


Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe says he stressed com­mon goals, not dif­fer­ences, dur­ing his week­end meetings with U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, whom he called a “good lis­tener.”

Abe re­turned Mon­day night from the meetings in Wash­ing­ton and a round of golf with Trump at one of his cour­ses in Florida.

“Sur­pris­ingly, Pres­i­dent Trump is a good lis­tener. He is open to turn­ing his ears to oth­ers, and he is friendly and open,” Abe said on NHK pub­lic tele­vi­sion. “I was able to dis­cuss frankly where Ja­pan is headed to.”

Abe said his main goal was to show the world an un­shak­able Ja­pan-U.S. al­liance. He said the two lead­ers dis­cussed Rus­sia, China, North Korea and other key is­sues while they trav­elled to­gether from Wash­ing­ton to Florida.

Abe, who has been crit­i­cized by op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers at home for not speak­ing out against some of Trump’s more divi­sive poli­cies, es­pe­cially his refugee and im­mi­gra­tion mea­sures, said he didn’t dis­cuss them be­cause they were in­ter­nal U.S. poli­cies.

“Rather than de­lib­er­ately stress­ing the dif­fer­ences, I wanted to start with ac­knowl­edg­ing our com­mon goals,” Abe said. “When it comes to is­sues of global con­cern, my ap­proach is to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where one can lis­ten to the other party.”

Abe said he sug­gested to Trump that the prob­lems of Syria, Ukraine and Iran could not be re­solved un­less the lead­ers of the U.S. and Rus­sia meet face to face. Abe has held talks more than a dozen times with Putin, and de­scribed the Rus­sian leader as “a man who keeps prom­ises.”

Trump is seen as tak­ing a softer ap­proach to­ward Moscow than the ad­min­is­tra­tion of his pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama. But his stance to­ward North Korea, which dom­i­nated their dis­cus­sions af­ter it launched a banned mis­sile on Sun­day, will be tougher, Abe said.

“The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will pur­sue a diplo­matic res­o­lu­tion, but will put all (mil­i­tary) op­tions on the ta­ble in the mean­time,” he said.

Abe said he was re­lieved that Trump did not ask Tokyo to pay more for U.S. troops based in Ja­pan. He said the two lead­ers agreed to ex­pand Ja­pan’s mil­i­tary role in their al­liance amid grow­ing se­cu­rity con­cerns in the re­gion, in­clud­ing North Korea’s mis­sile and nu­clear threat and an in­creas­ingly as­sertive China.

In 2015 Ja­pan en­acted a con­tentious se­cu­rity law de­signed to ex­pand its mil­i­tary role in bi­lat­eral al­liances and in­ter­na­tional peace­keep­ing.

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