Trump, Abe meet in NYC
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.