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Trump presses Japan over trade gap

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President Donald Trump meets with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House. Xinhua

TOKYO (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump pressed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday to even out a trade imbalance with the United States and said he was happy with how things were going with North Korea.

Trump is on a four-day state visit to Japan meant to showcase the alliance between the two allies, but which has also been shadowed by trade tensions.

Trump, at a news conference with Abe after a summit, said his goal was to remove trade barriers to put US exports on an equal footing in Japan. He said he hoped to have more to announce on trade very soon and said the two had agreed to expand cooperation in human space exploration.

Abe, for his part, said the two leaders had agreed to accelerate two-way trade talks.

Trump earlier explicitly linked trade and security, a connection that disturbs Japan, which puts its US alliance at the core of its defence policies.

“It’s all a balance sheet thing,” Trump said at the beginning of his talks with Abe.

“When I talk about a security threat, I talk about a balance sheet,” he said, adding that Japan had bought “tremendous amounts” of US military gear.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that he expected big moves on trade would wait until after Japan’s upper house election in July.

“Trade-wise, I think we’ll be announcing some things, probably in August, that will be very good for both countries,” Trump said yesterday. “We’ll get the balance of trade, I think, straightened out rapidly.” Abe, who has developed close ties with Trump since the US leader came to office, stressed the closeness of ties.

“This visit of President Trump and Madame Trump is a golden opportunity to clearly show the unshakable bond to the whole world and inside Japan as well,” Abe told the news conference.

Earlier, Trump was greeted by Emperor Naruhito and his Harvard-educated wife at the imperial palace in Tokyo in a formal welcome ceremony broadcast live on national television.

Trump is the first foreign dignitary to be received by the monarch since the latter inherited the throne after his father, Akihito, stepped down recently in the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in two centuries.

Trump gave a slight bow and he and First Lady Melania Trump shook hands with the imperial pair before entering the palace, to be met by Abe and his wife, Akie, among others.

The president and emperor and their wives returned outside to walk a red carpet and stand under a hot sun while a military band played the national anthems of both countries.

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