President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are fielding questions from reporters Wednesday evening as they near the end of two days of meetings at the president’s private, South Florida resort.
Much of their conversation focused on the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. Trump is preparing for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The president confirmed Wednesday that he sent CIA Director Mike Pompeo on a secret mission to North Korea over Easter weekend to begin laying the groundwork for that meeting. The clandestine diplomatic trip was first reported by the Washington Post.
Pompeo “had a great meeting with Kim Jong Un,” Trump told reporters. “Got along with him really well, really great.” Earlier the president tweeted that “a good relationship was formed,” paving the way for possible denuclearization.
Abe is nervous that Trump might come away from his meeting with Kim after agreeing to something less than a full dismantling of the North Korean nuclear program. The Japanese prime minister stressed that denuclearization must be “complete, verifiable, and irreversible.”
The two leaders also discussed trade. Trump complains the U.S. had a trade deficit with Japan last year of $56 billion. He has leveled 25 percent tariffs on steel imports from Japan, while granting an exemption to other big steel exporters such as Canada and South Korea.
Last week, in a meeting with farm-state lawmakers and governors, Trump floated the idea of rejoining a trade deal with Japan and 10 other countries that the Obama administration negotiated. Abe would welcome that, but Trump quickly backtracked, tweeting on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a good deal for the United States.
Trump and Abe are both avid golfers and conducted part of their meeting on the links Wednesday at one of the president’s namesake courses.
Most of their talks took place at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s ornate Palm Beach club, with the closing news conference planned for a gilded ballroom beneath crystal chandeliers.