Japan PM Abe to visit US, meet with Trump

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WASHINGTON — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accepted an invitation Saturday to visit President Donald Trump at the White House next month.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the news on Twitter shortly after the two leaders had their first phone call since Trump was inaugurated earlier this month.

“During call with Japanese Prime Minister Abe @POTUS invited him to a meeting at White House on February 10th,” Spicer tweeted.

The meeting would be Abe’s second visit with Trump following the election. He also visited Pearl Harbor last month to commemorate the attack’s 75th anniversary.

Trump startled many US Asian allies when he said during his campaign that Japan should potentially develop its own nuclear weapons to defend itself. A readout from the White House on Saturday said the two discussed North Korea and a desire to “deepen the bilateral trade and investment relationship.”

A high-ranking Japanese official told journalists that the phone call lasted approximately 45 minutes and did not involve a discussion about trade negotiations to replace the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal that Trump pulled the US out of. Japan was one of the countries involved in the deal’s negotiations.

The statement also said the two discussed Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ planned visit to Japan that is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

When the leaders first met in November at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Abe said he had a “very candid discussion” with Trump and felt that he could maintain a “relationship of trust” between them.

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