Trump, Abe meet in NYC

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEIHUA in Washington chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­

US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump had his first face-to­face talk with a for­eign head of state since win­ning the Nov 8 elec­tion by meet­ing Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe on Thurs­day in the Trump Tower in New York.

Abe de­scribed the con­ver­sa­tion as a cor­dial one that built con­fi­dence, NBC News re­ported.

“As an out­come of to­day’s dis­cus­sion, I am con­vinced that Mr. Trump is a leader with whom I can have great con­fi­dence in,” Abe said.

Abe did not pro­vide more de­tails of the con­ver­sa­tion, cit­ing the fact that the pres­i­den­t­elect had not yet taken of­fice and that the talk was un­of­fi­cial.

But he said he shared his ba­sic views on a num­ber of is­sues and high­lighted his abil­ity to work with the busi­ness­man.

“As the out­come of to­day’s meet­ing and dis­cus­sion, I’ve re­newed my con­vic­tion that to­gether with Mr. Trump I’ll be able to es­tab­lish a re­la­tion­ship of trust,” said Abe, who stopped in New York on his way to Lima, Peru, to at­tend the 24th Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Lead­ers’ meet­ing, where he is ex­pected to meet Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on the side­lines of the meet­ing.

Trump trig­gered wor­ries in Japan with his strong op­po­si­tion to the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP), his cam­paign rhetoric on the pos­si­bil­ity of Japan ac­quir­ing nu­clear weapons and de­mands that Japan, South Korea and NATO al­lies pay more for the up­keep of US forces on their soil or face their pos­si­ble with­drawal.

The US is pro­jected to spend $5.745 bil­lion for US forces in Japan in the cur­rent 2017 fis­cal year. Ac­cord­ing to Japan’s De­fense Min­istry, Tokyo’s ex­penses re­lated to US troops sta­tioned in Japan to­taled about 720 bil­lion yen ($6.6 bil­lion) in the year that ended in March, Reuters re­ported.

Japan’s de­fense spend­ing ranks eighth in the world de­spite its well-known paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion.

The Trump team had not is­sued a state­ment by press time. But Kellyanne Con­way, who man­aged Trump’s cam­paign, told re­porters ear­lier Thurs­day that the talk would not in­clude any “diplo­matic agree­ments” out of def­er­ence to Obama, who does not hand power over to Trump un­til Jan 20.

“Any deeper con­ver­sa­tions about pol­icy and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Japan and the United States will have to wait un­til af­ter the in­au­gu­ra­tion,” she told CBS.

Sta­ple­ton Roy, for­mer US am­bas­sador to China, said on Thurs­day evening that it’s im­pos­si­ble to say any­thing use­ful now be­cause Trump has not in­di­cated who his im­por­tant peo­ple will be.

“Who will be work­ing with him? What the pol­icy would be? So in my judg­ment, it’s the wrong time to spec­u­late,” Roy said.

Chi Wang, pres­i­dent of the US-China Pol­icy Foun­da­tion, be­lieves peo­ple should not take Trump’s cam­paign rhetoric too se­ri­ously. He said Hil­lary Clin­ton wanted to strengthen the US-Japan al­liance. Trump may not strengthen it, but he will not re­duce it be­cause Japan is the most im­por­tant US ally in East Asia.

Wang, a long­time watcher of US-China re­la­tions, ex­pressed his op­ti­mism of US- China re­la­tions un­der the fu­ture Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Wang, au­thor of the book Obama’s Chal­lenge to China: The Pivot to Asia, de­scribed the pivot as a fail­ure that Obama him­self did not ad­mit but was rec­og­nized by many peo­ple in the US.

“Trump will be bet­ter not go­ing down Obama’s path,” Wang said.

Be­fore Abe left Japan for the meet­ing in New York, he ex­pressed deep con­cern over the fu­ture of the TPP, say­ing that Japan will trans­fer the thrust of its trade poli­cies to the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship (RCEP) trade agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to Japan’s Asahi Shim­bun news­pa­per.

Japan’s lower house of Par­lia­ment rat­i­fied the TPP shortly af­ter the US elec­tion, but Abe is still try­ing to get the fi­nal pas­sage through the Par­lia­ment.

“In or­der to keep the United States in the TPP ne­go­ti­a­tions, Abe is aim­ing to con­vey to Trump the de­merit that will be pro­duced if the United States leaves the talks,” a Ja­panese gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial was quoted by Asahi as say­ing.

The RCEP fea­tures China, Japan, Aus­tralia, In­dia, New Zealand and South­east Asian coun­tries and does not in­clude the US as a ne­go­ti­at­ing coun­try.

Also on Thurs­day, Trump met Henry Kissinger, for­mer sec­re­tary of state.

An of­fi­cial state­ment from Trump’s team said Trump and Kissinger met in New York, and their con­ver­sa­tion fo­cused on Rus­sia, China, Iran and the Euro­pean Union.

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