WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump this afternoon will begin two days of meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with North Korea at the front of the agenda.
The meetings get under way at Mar-a-Lago at 3 p.m., and will include dinner with their wives.
"Obviously, the president has got a great relationship there, and it's going to be centered primarily on preparation for talks with North Korea as well as a lot of trade discussion is expected to come up," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
From the Associated Press:
When Trump hosted Abe at his private Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach, Florida, shortly after the inauguration, North Korea conducted its first missile test of Trump's administration, and the two delivered a joint statement denouncing the launch.
This time, Abe's visit comes weeks after Trump took him — and the region — by surprise by announcing he had accepted an invitation to sit down with Kim following months of increasingly heated rhetoric over the North's nuclear weapons program.
Among the major powers in Northeast Asia, Japan has been left out of the recent flurry of diplomacy with North Korea. Abe will be seeking reassurance from Trump that security threats to Japan won't be overlooked in the U.S.-North Korea summit, slated for May or early June.
Mike Pompeo, Trump's pick for secretary of state, said the goal of the summit is to get North Korea to "step away from its efforts to hold America at risk with nuclear weapons."
Abe has voiced fears that short- and medium-range missiles that pose a threat to Japan might not be part of the U.S. negotiations and has said he worries Trump may "end up accepting North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons."
James Schoff, a former Pentagon adviser on East Asia policy and now a senior associate for the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the North Korea summit will be front and center of the visit.