U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are mixing business with pleasure on the second day of the multi-day summit between the two leaders.
A day after Trump declared at the White House an alliance between the two countries is a cornerstone of peace in East Asia, Trump and Abe played golf Saturday at Trump National Golf Course near his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
Abe and Trump were expected to have more discussions Saturday over meals at various Trump properties in Florida.
Moments before the presidential motorcade arrived at the golf course, it crossed an intersection with a couple of dozen protesters carrying signs, some of which said “Stop Hate and “Resist.”
Before departing for Florida Friday afternoon, the two leaders began talks at the White House Friday morning that provided them with opportunities to reinforce a long-established security treaty and bolster their economic relationship.
Abe said Friday he and Trump reached agreement on a new framework for economic talks and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal would be among the topics of discussion. Trump said any trading relationship between the two countries must be “free, fair and reciprocal.”
Japan has been concerned about the impact Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and “America First” strategy, would have on Asia.
Abe expressed hope of developing a joint economic stimulus package that could create thousands of U.S. jobs through private and public investments in infrastructure.
This meeting would be the most time Trump has spent with a foreign leader since he became president on January 20. It is Trump’s second face-to-face meeting with a key ally after hosting British Prime Minister Theresa May in Washington two weeks ago. The weekend excursion is Trump’s first use of his Mar-a-Lago resort to entertain an international leader.
‘We will work together’
The Trump administration set a positive tone for the weekend summit by saying before Abe’s arrival at the White House that Trump is committed to resisting any unilateral declarations that would threaten Japan’s authority over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
At the Friday news conference, Trump reaffirmed that commitment, as well as one ensuring safety in the region.
“We will work together to promote our shared interests …including freedom of navigation and defending against the North Korean missile and nuclear threat, both of which I consider a very, very high priority,” he said.
Japan’s concerns about Trump’s campaign promise to get Japan and other U.S. allies to pay more for their own defense were allayed somewhat by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during a visit last week to Japan and South Korea.
Trump’s meeting with Japan’s prime minister occurs as the new U.S. administration appears to be adopting a more traditional U.S. policy toward Asia that features consolidating alliances and collaboration with China.
Late Thursday, Trump reaffirmed America’s long-standing “One China” policy in a telephone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Late Friday evening, Trump and Abe had dinner with their wives on an outdoor patio at Mar-a-Lago. They were joined by Robert Kraft, the owner of the National Football League’s New England Patriots, which won the Super Bowl last Sunday.
The two world leaders were to have dinner again Saturday evening, along with some members of the Japanese delegation. Trump and Abe are scheduled to leave Florida on Sunday.