Abe,Trump to hold talks

Takehiko Kambayashi

The prime minister of Japan and the president of the United States are preparing for their first summit between the two in Washington early February.

In an address in the lower house of parliament on Thursday, Shinzo Abe said the two countries are finalising preparations to hold a meeting as soon as possible.

The two heads of government are expected to meet around February 10 and will discuss the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and will also discuss the bilateral security alliance, officials told Japanese news agency Kyodo.

This will be the first official meeting between Abe and Donald Trump since the latter assumed office last week, although the two met informally in New York in November, shortly after the Republican won the US presidential elections.

Following the US exit from the TPP, one of the first executive orders signed by Trump to fulfill his electoral promise, the new US president has said he will focus on bilateral trade agreements.

Abe stressed his intention of trying to convince Trump of the advantages of the TPP but also expressed his willingness to negotiate bilateral economic agreements with Washington in the same way Japan did with Australia, another TPP signatory country.

Abe and Trump are also expected to discuss the bilateral security alliance, which is in jeopardy after the Republican threatened during his campaign to withdraw US troops from Japan unless the Asian country paid for the US military presence.

In a press conference on Thursday, top Japanese government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said the US-Japan security alliance is crucial for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

This matter will also be top of the agenda for the new US defense secretary, James Mattis, during his visit to Japan at the end of next week.

Mattis is scheduled to meet his Japanese counterpart, Tomomi Inada, on February 3-4, his first overseas trip since being appointed defense chief, according to the White House.