Tokyo, May 27 : US President Donald Trump on Monday backed a possible face-to-face meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and said he expected “good things” to come from Pyongyang.
Abe said Trump pledged “full support” to the proposed meeting, in which he wanted to have “frank” talks about North Korea’s nuclear policy and Japanese abductees.
Trump, on a four-day visit to Japan, earlier in the day became the first foreign leader to meet newly crowned Emperor Naruhito.
At their meeting at the State Guest House Akasaka Palace, Trump and Abe discussed issues ranging from trade to foreign relations.
Abe said they were on the same page with ambitions to see North Korea denuclearised, but they appeared to disagree over the short-range missile tests conducted earlier this month.
The Japanese leader, who sees the missile tests in nearby North Korea as a threat to Japan’s security, described them as being “of great regret”, while Trump said he was not “personally bothered”, the BBC reported.
Trump described Kim as a “very smart guy” and said he expected “a lot of good things” to come out of North Korea. His remarks came after Pyongyang called US National Security Advisor John Bolton a “war maniac”.
Trump also said he would work with Tokyo to bring home Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents decades ago. The regime admitted kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s, and returned five to Japan in 2002.
It maintains that the rest are dead — something Japan does not believe. The Japanese citizens were abducted to train North Korean spies in the Japanese language and customs.
Attempts to mend trade disagreements were also discussed between Trump and Abe.
The US leader said he needed to correct a “tremendous” trade imbalance with Japan, hinting at a major announcement on the issue in August. “Trade-wise, I think we will be announcing some things probably in August that will be very good for both countries,” Kyodo News quoted Trump as saying following his meeting with Abe.
Both countries would work to rectify what he saw as a “lack of fairness” in his country’s economic relationship with Japan, the US President said.
In response, Abe said, “I’d like to have in-depth discussions over global challenges such as North Korea, the US and Japanese economies, and coordinate bilateral efforts toward a successful Group of 20 summit.”
Talking about Iran, Trump said he was willing to talk to the country to ease the ongoing tensions between them while highlighting the mediation role Japan could play in the process.
The US and Japan also pledged to continue and expand cooperation during the state dinner hosted by Emperor Naruhito for the US leader.
“I sincerely hope that… the peoples of our two countries will continue to contribute to peace and prosperity in the world to bring about a future filled with hope, all the while further expanding the scope of our cooperation and deepening our unwavering bond,” Naruhito said, according to state broadcaster NHK.
Trump said he was carrying the American people’s expectations for the treasured bilateral alliance.
The US President is set to conclude his Japan visit on Tuesday after commemorating American military personnel who died in service at a US military base south of Tokyo and visiting a Japanese helicopter carrier.