01:50 GMT +316 August 2018
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    President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington

    President Trump, Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Hold Joint News Conference

    © AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais
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    After a campaign season where now-President Donald Trump was highly critical of Japan on issues such as their contributions to mutual defense and trade, the nation’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has arrived in Washington for a bilateral meeting -- followed by a joint news conference.

    Abe arrived in DC on Friday, meeting with Trump just after noon at the White House. He is the second foreign head of state to visit the new US president since the inauguration, after British Prime Minister Theresa May in January.

    Entering the East Room of the White House shortly after 1 p.m., Trump opened by expressing his respect for the foreign leader, as well as their nation.

    "It is important that both Japan and the United States continue to invest very heavily in the alliance to build up our defense and our defensive capabilities — which under our mutual leadership will become stronger and stronger — and as time goes by ultimately they will be impenetrable," Trump stated.

    Trump stated that the two leaders will work together on their shared interests, including the North Korean missile and nuclear threat, which he described as a "very very high priority."

    Moving on to the economy, Trump explained that the two nations will "seek a trading relationship that is free, fair, and reciprocal, benefitting both of our countries."

    Trump also thanked Abe for hosting US armed forces in their nation.

    Passing the floor to Abe, the Prime Minister expressed his gratitude for the "heartwarming welcome" from the American people. He stated that America is a "champion of democracy."

    "I would like to celebrate and congratulate Donald being sworn in as the president," Abe said.

    Abe stated that with Trump as president, he expects their to be "major scale infrastructure investments," and offered Japan's "high-level technical abilities" to assist with his efforts, noting the speed of the trains in his nation. He said that with Japan's technology, there could be a high-speed train going between New York City and DC that would take only one hour.

    Trump, before taking questions from reporters, asserted that he and Abe have a very good relationship, which "could change," though he noted that he does not think it will.

    While Trump has been critical of Japan in the past, Abe has previously referred to the president as a “trustworthy leader.” The Japanese government said in a statement that the meeting was aimed at "building personal trust between the two leaders,” and referring to the alliance between Japan and the US as "the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region."

    "Of course there are disagreements [between US, Japan], but we should not close down the dialogue just by pointing to the differences," Abe said.

    Later in the afternoon, Trump and Abe, accompanied by their wives, are scheduled to fly on Air Force One to Mar-a-Lago for the weekend to play golf. The Florida resort has been referred to as the "winter White House” by the Trump administration.

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    Tags:
    White House, Donald Trump, Shinzō Abe, Mar-a-Lago, Florida, United States, Japan
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