NEW YORK, Nov. 18 (UPI) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his trust in President-elect Donald Trump after the two held a 90-minute meeting in New York.
Abe is on a visit to the United States, which included Thursday’s meeting in Trump Tower. He is on his way to Peru for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which will be attended by President Barack Obama. Abe and Trump met in an “unofficial capacity,” Abe later said, since Trump has not yet assumed the presidency, and added he regards Trump as a leader “with whom I can have great confidence in. I renewed my conviction that together with Mr. Trump I will be able to establish a relationship of trust.”
It was Trump’s first face-to-face meeting with a foreign head of state since his election last week. Both Japanese and Trump transition team members stressed, prior to the meeting, that the visit was merely an opportunity for Abe and Trump to get to know each other. No agendas were exchanged and no talking points were submitted ahead of the meeting.
Abe posed with Trump for photos, along with Trump’s daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, although the extent of their involvement in the meeting was not revealed. Vice president-elect Mike Pence joined the meeting near the end, a Trump transition team adviser said.
In Japan, the meeting received heavy media attention, and government leaders expressed relief that Trump did not repeat campaign criticisms of Japan. During the campaign, Trump had questioned Japan’s tariffs on imported American meat and its contributions to U.S. military bases in the country. Trump had suggested that Japan defend itself rather than rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella. But the photo of Abe, posing with Flynn, who was nominated by Trump as national security adviser, was seen in Japan as a reassuring signal that the military alliance between the two counties will see little change, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.