He was the first foreign head of government to meet US President Donald Trump in November 2017 after he won the presidential election that year and made the headlines for his awkward handshake with the latter in another visit in February 2017. Now, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to meet Trump again in the US on April 17-18 to discuss ways on keeping the pressure on North Korea, the menace in East Asia which has kept all the regional powers worried with its nuclear ambitions. The venue of the meeting will be Trump's luxurious resort in Florida - Mar-a-Lago.
The White House informed about the impending meeting on Monday, April 2.
It said in a statement that the US and Japan would reaffirm their alliance as a "cornerstone of peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region". The Trump administration popularised the term Indo-Pacific instead of Asia-Pacific to corner China in its own backyard.
The Trump-Abe meeting is taking place ahead of the probable talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in May. Trump had accepted the proposal to meet Kim from a South Korean diplomat in March, leaving quite a few stunned.
The White House sources also said that Trump and Abe would explore ways to expand trade and investment ties between their respective countries during the meeting. In Trump's recent imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, Japan was not given any exemption even if it is one of Washington's top allies. The USA's other ally in the region - South Korea - was given an exemption from trade penalties.
A lot of engagements are underway ever since the news of the probable Trump-Kim meeting broke. While Chinese President Xi Jinping invited Kim to Beijing for a confidence-building meeting, North and South Korea are also in talks towards a summit to be held at a border town on April 27. And now, with Abe also set to meet Trump ahead of that key meeting, it is clear that no side is ready to leave any diplomatic stone unturned at the moment.
India to host US, Japan for trilateral talks before Abe-Trump meeting
Meanwhile, India is set to organise a trilateral dialogue with delegates from the US and Japan in New Delhi ahead of the Trump-Abe meeting, the US State Department said.
Washington sent two senior diplomats from the state department - Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells along with Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton for the trilateral talks.
The India-US-Japan trilateral dialogue was started in 2011 when Hillary Clinton was the US secretary of state.