Trump plays golf with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe

Tokyo, May 26: Visiting US President Donald Trump on Sunday had his first informal talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a round of golf here as the two countries held trade talks.

Although the winner of the round between Abe and Trump was not reported, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the match took place at the Mobara Country Club, reports Efe news.

The two leaders were joined on the course by veteran Japanese golfer Isao Aoki.

Abe and Trump "deepened their friendship amid a cozy atmosphere", according to the Ministry.

Alongside a selfie with Trump on the course, Abe said in a tweet on Sunday that he "would like to make the Japan-US alliance even more unwavering in the new Japanese era". The new Reiwa era of Japan began on May 1 with the ascension of Emperor Naruhito to the throne.

"Great fun and meeting with Prime Minister AbeShinzo. Numerous Japanese officials told me that the Democrats would rather see the United States fail than see me or the Republican Party succeed - Death Wish!" Trump tweeted.

Before the 16 holes, the two leaders had breakfast and afterwards had lunch consisting of double cheeseburgers with beef from the US, the Ministry said.

Both wearing caps, Abe took the wheel of the golf cart they travelled in.

Meanwhile, the US President also reported that "great progress (was) being made in our Trade Negotiations with Japan. Agriculture and beef heavily in play".

In the negotiations between US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi, Washington is reportedly seeking greater access to the Japanese market in beef, pork and wheat products among others.

Japan is expanding its markets in those sectors with products from Australia or New Zealand, thanks to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), from which the Trump administration withdrew.

Tokyo is reportedly calling for lower US tariffs on Japanese industrial products, including vehicles - one of its main exports.

Later, Trump is due to attend the final of a sumo wrestling tournament, where he will present a trophy to the winner.

The two leaders will then meet again over dinner with their respective spouses, Akie Abe and Melania Trump, ahead of formal meetings on Monday, during which Trump will also be the first foreign leader to meet Emperor Naruhito.

Earlier on Sunday, Trump reiterated his "confidence" in North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after Pyongyang's missile tests earlier in the month. Trump's stance was in direct contrast to his own national security adviser and host country Japan.

Trump's four-day visit began on Saturday, welcomed by the Tokyo Skytree lit up in the Stars and Stripes.

It is the US President's second state trip to Japan, after a visit in November 2017.

Abe and Trump have held 38 summit talks, including over the phone, during Trump's term. 

IANS

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