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Trump meets the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Donald Trump had his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign dignitary Thursday when he sat down with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

November 18

0:00
2016

New York City , United States of America - 18 Nov 2016 - Mail on Sunday

Donald Trump had his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign dignitary Thursday when he sat down with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - and brought daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner along too. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he had a "very candid discussion" Thursday with US President-elect Donald Trump. The pair met in New York in an "unofficial" capacity, Abe told reporters, as Trump has not yet assumed the presidency.

Abe stressed that he emerged feeling that the US and Japan will be able to maintain a "relationship of trust" with Trump as president.

'As an outcome of today's discussions, I am convinced Mr Trump is a leader in whom I can have great confidence,' said Abe, whose country was troubled by some of Trump's election promises. He described the atmosphere as 'warm'.

But exactly what was discussed in the 90-minute conversation remains unknown - as do Kushner and Ivanka's roles in the meeting. Abe said that the meeting had 'renewed my conviction that together with Mr Trump I will be able to establish a relationship of trust'.

'Without confidence between the two nations, our alliance would never function in the future,' he told media at The InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel after the his meeting.

He declined to go into details on what was discussed in the hour-and-a-half conversation, but said he 'conveyed' his 'basic views' and promised a more in-depth meeting in the future. Japan is one of Washington's closes allies, but its ministers were reportedly concerned during the run-up to the election by several of Trump's statements.

Abe gave Trump a golf driver and received golf-wear in return, Japanese officials said. They included suggestions that he might pull thousands of US troops out of the region - where they help allies like South Korea and Japan counterbalance China - unless other countries paid up for the upkeep.

He also suggested that officially pacifist Japan will need to invest in its own nukes. For nationalist Abe, who strongly opposes China, that was a huge matter of concern. Trump also pledged to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would ease trade between the US, Japan and other Asian and American countries - which Trump said would kill American jobs.

That would be bad news for Japan, which ratified the TPP last week, and saw it as one route out of an economy that has been stagnant for years due to an ageing population and falling demand.

"I am very honored to see the President elect ahead of other world leaders," Abe told reporters before his departure. "The Japan-US alliance is the axis of Japan's diplomacy and security. The alliance becomes alive only when there is trust between us."

While vague, this statement would be reassuring to the Japanese public, Jeffery Kingston, director of Asian studies at Japan's Temple University, told CNN.

"Abe has invested a lot of critical capital in strengthening alliance with the US, and would have been worried to see his entire agenda go up in the air," he said. "By meeting Trump, Abe wants to show the rest of the world that the US and Japan still stand side by side."

A top aide to Abe, Katsuyuki Kawai, said that he'd been told by members of Trump's transition team that Trump's previous remarks should not be taken literally. Abe declined to say if the two men hashed out the defense issue or discussed their disagreement over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, but stressed that he emerged "convinced that Mr. Trump is a leader in whom I can have confidence."

"I conveyed my various views on different issues, but since he hasn't assumed the office, I would like to refrain from touching on details," Abe said.

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