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Trump, Abe to huddle ahead of possible US-North Korea talks

U.S. President Donald Trump, center, and Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, walk past an honor guard at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. (Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg (Kiyoshi Ota/Xinhua/ZUMA Wire/TNS)

Donald Trump will host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his South Florida resort later this month ahead of the U.S. president’s planned talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

The White House announced the summit, set for April 17-18 at his Mar-A-Lago resort, amid reports Abe felt blindsided by Trump’s abrupt decision last month to accept Kim’s invitation for direct talks over his nuclear arms and long-range missile programs. Trump and his top aides have several times implied they might use U.S. nuclear arms against Kim’s government.

It will be the third summit between Trump and Abe, who used his first visit to the United States under Trump’s administration to lavish the 45th American president with praise. It will be Abe’s second time at Mar-A-Lago.

It also will come as Abe is angling to remain a player in coming talks about North Korea’s weapons programs, with South Korean leaders readying for their own negotiations with Kim’s government in a few weeks. The Japanese leader has said he is in talks with the North about a summit with Kim as he seeks to retain his legitimacy; Kim’s government has fired missiles over Japanese territory.

Trump and Abe “will discuss the international campaign to maintain maximum pressure on North Korea in advance of President Trump’s planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

“President Trump and Prime Minister Abe will explore ways to expand fair and reciprocal trade and investment ties between the United States and Japan,” she said, “two of the world’s wealthiest and most innovative economies.”

On Thursday, Trump said he likely will withhold his final approval on a revised U.S.-South Korea trade pact until talks with North Korea have concluded “because it’s a very strong card.”

About any deal that might be on the table with the North, he said in Ohio: “If it’s no good, we’re walking. And if it’s good, we’ll embrace it.”

Any nixing of that revised deal could benefit Japan.

Trump last week said Chinese President Xi Jinping conveyed a message that Kim agreed to meet with him after secret meetings with China.

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