Trump and Abe - Is the Bromance Alive?


Arriving in a motorcade from Mar-a-Lago, the president's own gold-plated mansion 3 miles (5 kilometers) away, Melania Trump and Akie Abe were greeted by Flagler's great grandson William Matthews, and museum Executive Director Erin Manning, who led them through a tour of the home, which historians say cost $4 million ($110 million today) to build.

Just days after ordering an airstrike on Syria, and as his personal lawyer heads to court over an Federal Bureau of Investigation raid, President Donald Trump on Monday headed to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, putting himself in a position to golf. After all, only 648 miles separate North Korea from Japan, and Trump's proposed summit will impact the security of both nations.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday the United States would like to see a free trade deal with Japan at some point, noting the two countries had some differences on trade. Sharp differences have already emerged over the goal of any negotiations, with Trump's nominee as the new U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo suggesting in confirmation hearings that the USA might accept a nuclear-armed North Korea without long-range missiles. Bilateral trade rallied to some 300 billion USA dollars in 2017, and the number of tourists going to Japan from Chinese mainland reached 7.3 million, up 15 percent year-on-year. Now Trump has upset Abe's plans again, by announcing that the United States could re-enter the TPP. And he paid little heed to Abe's warnings about North Korea - instead indicating that preparations for talks are moving forward rapidly. A meeting between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected in next week. That confidence was thrown into question when Trump later agreed to meet with Kim Jong-un.

They also partook in a round at the Kasumi Country Club when Trump visited Japan a year ago. The visits to Mar-a-Lago come with "more distractions, more reminders of pre-POTUS life, more opportunities for outside friends to make contact", one former White House official said, "and more time watching TV".

Pyongyang has acknowledging abducting 13 Japanese, while Tokyo maintains North Korea abducted 17.

Prime Minister Abe hoped to reverse his decision to impose new steel and aluminum tariffs on Japan.

Trump said five locations for the summit are under consideration. The leaders and first ladies stopped briefly to talk to reporters.

Abe is certain to press Trump for exemption from the latest USA aluminium and steel tariffs that shocked Japan and other allies, particularly as they were imposed on the grounds of "national security".

The U.S. itself is pushing for the release of three Americans.