US president hosts Abe with North Korea on agenda
US President Donald Trump hosts Japan’s Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago resort Tuesday, with both men under pressure to deliver something more than bonhomie and birdies.
The Japanese prime minister will make his second visit to Trump’s ostentatious Palm Beach, Florida estate, when the focus will be on trade and security.
Last year, Trump and Abe traded fist bumps and high fives as they snuck in a round of golf in Palm Beach and a return leg near Tokyo, tucking into burgers with ketchup for good measure.
“Obviously, the president has got a great relationship there,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders looking forward to meetings this Tuesday and Wednesday.
But with Abe’s approval rating languishing at its lowest level in years and Trump mired in controversies and crises too numerous to list, both are under pressure.
“Long-distance relationships are complicated, and the stakes of their second rendezvous at Mar-a-Lago this week are high,” said Mireya Solis of the Brookings Institution.
Trump’s decision to hold an improbable summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un this May or June was announced without consulting Abe. And worse, it was announced by a South Korean official.
Since then Tokyo officials have watched in horror as China and South Korea – an ally, but an uneasy one – take on a more direct hand in influencing the outcome of a nuclear crisis that places Japan’s very existence in question.
Pyongyang has lobbed testmissiles over the sea of Japan, triggering public warning alerts. The abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea remains a high profile domestic issue.
As he left Japan, Abe told reporters he would be reiterating Tokyo’s “maximum pressure” policy towards Pyongyang, and that the “important abduction issue” would be high on his agenda.
“I will use all my strength so we see progress towards resolution of the abduction issue,” he said.