US, Japan plan new talks on 'fair and reciprocal' trade deal

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Abe underscores TPP as he and Trump remain at loggerheads over trade issues

"But we want to approach the discussions from the point of view that the TPP is best for both of the countries". Japan is one of the few key USA allies that has not been granted exemptions from the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the U.S.

At Wednesday's news conference, Abe praised Trump for his support on the issue of the abductions by North Korean agents of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and '80s. "Our country's position is that TPP is the best for both of our countries", he added, referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Trump and Abe spent Wednesday morning golfing at one of Trump's nearby courses in their latest show of "golf diplomacy", according to pictures tweeted from their Twitter accounts and those of their aides. "We'll see what happens", Trump said.

Trump said it was clear from their talks that the abductee issue is "one of the truly most important things on Shinzo's mind". "We're comfortable. We have great relationships, '" the president said, boosting the private club, which collects dues that enrich Trump.

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President Trump said at the joint news conference that if he did not think the meeting would be successful he would not go, and if the meeting went ahead but was not productive, he would walk out. He's met with the billionaire businessman more than any other world leader, and he is Trump's second-most frequent caller. North Korea says eight others have died and denies the remaining four entered its territory.

Trump said it was clear that Abe cares about the issue deeply.

Indeed, Michael Wolff's tell-all book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House includes a reference to the president spending his evenings eating a cheeseburger in bed, while his youngest daughter Tiffany told TMZ following the book's release that her father "loves McDonald's", a food he reportedly often enjoyed while on the campaign trail.

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But when pressed on the economic disagreements, Abe repeatedly consulted notes as he tried to sidestep questions on the contentious issues, instead returning to Trump's favored call for developing a "reciprocal" trade relationship with the U.S. It marked a stark departure from Abe's pre-summit hopes of coaxing the U.S. back into the TPP.

But he also urged caution, saying there should be "no reward" given to the North just because the reclusive country is responding to dialogue. "'Maximum pressure' should be maintained and actual implementation of concrete actions toward denuclearization will be demanded".

"As I've said before, there is a bright path available to North Korea when it achieves denuclearisation in a complete and verifiable and irreversible way".

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