Mon, Nov 06, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Trump’s Tokyo trip starts with warning

SPEECH, THEN GOLF:In a speech to troops at Yokota Air Base, the US president said that no dictator, no regime and no nation should ever underestimate the US’ resolve

AP, TOKYO

US President Donald Trump, left, tries to fist bump Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, as Japanese professional golfer Hideki Matsuyama, center, looks on, as they play golf yesterday at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe in a photograph released by Japan’s Cabinet Public Relations Office.

Photo: Reuters / Japan’s Cabinet Public Relations Office / Kyodo

With a round of golf, a custom cap and a hamburger of US beef, US President Donald Trump’s first trip to Asia began with a taste of home.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday welcomed Trump with an effusive display of friendship that, in the days ahead, is to give way to high-stakes diplomacy.

The two leaders, who have struck up an unlikely but easy rapport, shared a casual lunch and played nine holes at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, joined by professional golfer Hideki Matsuyama.

The low-key agenda was a prelude to today’s formal talks and state dinner in Tokyo.

Eager to forge a bond with Tokyo’s crucial ally, Abe was one of the first world leaders to court then-president-elect Trump.

He was the first to call Trump after the last year’s US presidential election, and rushed to New York days later to meet him and present him with a gold Honma golf driver. The two men met on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy this spring and Trump hosted Abe in Florida.

White House officials said Trump has spoken with Abe by telephone more than any world leader, aside from British Prime Minister Theresa May.

That bond was clear yesterday.

“The relationship is really extraordinary. We like each other and our countries like each other,” Trump said last night before dinner with Abe, who for this meal did show Trump traditional cuisine with a teppanyaki dinner. “And I don’t think we’ve ever been closer to Japan than we are right now.”

Trump and Abe also exchanged glowing tweets about their golf.

Trump dubbed Abe and Matsuyama “wonderful people,” while Abe called it a “round of golf with a marvelous friend.”

Abe told reporters after the golf session that the two could talk frankly in a relaxed atmosphere while out on the course, adding that they were able to “carry out in depth discussion, at times touching on various difficult issues.”

A senior White House official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said the pair had discussed trade and North Korea — but did not keep score.

Before the game, Trump delivered a speech at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo in which he hailed Japan as a “crucial ally” and warned adversaries not to test the US’ resolve.

“Japan is a treasured partner and crucial ally of the United States and today we thank them for welcoming us and for decades of wonderful friendship between our two nations,” he told US and Japanese service members.

Although Trump did not mention North Korea by name during the speech, he warned of the consequences of crossing what he called the “most fearsome fighting force in the history of our world.”

“Together with our allies, America’s warriors are prepared to defend our nation using the full range of our unmatched capabilities. No one — no dictator, no regime and no nation — should underestimate, ever, American resolve,” he said.

The newspaper of North Korea’s ruling party, Rodong Sinmun, yesterday warned Trump against making “reckless remarks.”

“If the US misjudges the DPRK’s [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] toughest will and dares to act recklessly, the latter will be compelled to deal a resolute and merciless punishment upon the former with the mobilization of all forces,” it added.

Additional reporting by AFP

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