Abe to Meet Trump in April, Pledges Ongoing Pressure on N. Korea

(Bloomberg) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will meet U.S. President Donald Trump in April, and the two nations agreed that it’s important to keep economic and military pressure on North Korea ahead of Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un by the end of May.

“Japan and the U.S. have cooperated firmly and put pressure along with South Korea and the international community" and Trump’s meeting is a result of that, Abe told reporters in Tokyo after talking with Trump by phone. “We will keep up our utmost pressure until North Korea takes concrete steps in order to abandon its nuclear missiles in a transparent and irreversible way.”

Before the announcement of a possible summit with North Korea, Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, including those from Japan and South Korea. While Abe didn’t discuss that issue with Trump, according to government spokesman Yoshihide Suga, that action risks hurting relations with Japan, the foreign minister Taro Kono said.

Japan and South Korea are the most important U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region, and their cooperation is needed both to impose sanctions and military pressure, and for any possible deal with the North.

Abe also said he has sought Trump’s cooperation to solve the issue of kidnapping of Japanese citizens.

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