Japanese prime minister meets Trump, seeks to build trust

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday he wants to build a relationship of trust when he meets U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, stressing that the two-way alliance is the core of Tokyo’s diplomacy and security.

Reuters reported that Abe, set to meet Trump on Thursday in New York, is expected to be the first foreign leader to do so since the real estate magnate won a surprise victory in the U.S. election on November 8.

An adviser to Trump, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to speak to media, said earlier this week the president-elect would seek to reassure Abe and other Asian allies who were rattled by his rhetoric during the election campaign.

However, asked whether the issue of contentious issue of Japanese financial support for U.S. troops based in Japan would be raised, Trump aide Kellyanne Conway told the CBS program “This Morning” on Thursday, “Maybe they’ll discuss that today.”

Trump, a Republican, fanned worries in Tokyo and beyond with his campaign comments on the possibility of Japan acquiring nuclear arms and demands that allies pay more for the upkeep of U.S. forces on their soil or face their possible withdrawal.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Tokyo, Abe called the US-Japan alliance “the cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy and security. Only when there is trust does an alliance come alive,” Kyodo news agency reported.

“We are very sensitive to the fact that President Obama is still in office for the next two months, and we won’t be making diplomatic agreements today,” she told reporters as she entered the building.

Separately, she told CBS: “Any deeper conversations about policy and the relationship between Japan and the United States will have to wait until after the inauguration.”

The Trump adviser who spoke earlier this week said he expected the president-elect to reaffirm “the American commitment to being in the Pacific long term” and that while the question of financial support for U.S. troops might come up, it was unlikely to be a focus.

Conway said Vice President-Elect Mike Pence would also attend the meeting, but there was unlikely to be any media access.