Abe, Pence meet in Tokyo to discuss N. Korea, trade

13, Nov. 2018

20181113_0005.jpg

TOKYO, Kyodo -Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met on Tuesday in Tokyo with the denuclearization of North Korea and trade expected to be high on the agenda.

At the outset of the meeting in the prime minister's office, Abe said Pence's third visit to Japan "demonstrated the strong bond of the Japan-U.S. alliance."

Pence said he is looking forward to discussing how Tokyo and Washington can continue to "work closely in advancing the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Pence arrived in Tokyo on Monday evening as part of his Asian and Oceanian tour to attend annual regional summits later this week on behalf of President Donald Trump.

Abe and Pence are likely to agree on the need for maintaining pressure on North Korea to push it to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, Japanese officials said.

Abe may ask for the U.S. administration's continued support to settle the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by the North in the 1970s and 1980s, as Trump plans to have a second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un following their first one in Singapore in June.

The meeting between Abe and Pence comes at a time when speculation is growing in Japan that Trump will adopt a tougher stance on the country over trade following the midterm elections last week.

At a press conference a day after the elections, Trump said Japan is not treating the United States fairly on trade.

Negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement on goods, or TAG, are scheduled to start in mid-January.

Abe and Pence are also likely to confirm cooperation toward realizing a "free and open" Indo-Pacific region, a vision advocated by the Japanese leader and then backed by the United States.

Abe and Pence are scheduled to attend annual meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore and a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Papua New Guinea. (Kyodo)