President Donald Trump’s planned summit with North Korean Kim Jong Un is front and center on the agenda as the president welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for two days of talks at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Tuesday.
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Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow and senior director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council Matthew Pottinger said the potential summit, along with trade, would dominate discussions and that the White House believes May or early June are still target dates for Trump and Kim to meet face to face.
“They’re going to exchange views so we make sure that Japanese interests and American interests are fully accounted for,” Pottinger said of the plans for the U.S.-North Korean summit.
Pottinger was also asked about the news that South Korea and North Korea were nearing a potential agreement to announce the end of their decades-long military conflict ahead of a meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Kim Jong-Un.
“I would just say that the U.S. and South Korea are as much aligned and coordinated on their summit as we are on a U.S. summit,” Pottinger said.
Both officials emphasized that Trump and Abe have a close friendship and that Trump has met with Abe more than any other foreign leader since taking office 14 months ago. However, a golf outing is still not expected despite a trip the pair made during Abe’s last Mar-a-Lago visit to Trump’s private golf course nearby.
Kudlow was also asked about his new role announced last week after a meeting the president held with lawmakers at the White House to consider the U.S. potentially negotiating to re-join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade accord the president routinely derided as a “terrible deal” while he was a candidate for the presidency.
“There’s nothing at all concrete,” Kudlow said. “On the American side at the moment, it’s more of a thought than a policy.”
Kudlow insisted the Japanese are open to discussions about potentially reentering, but said such a deal would only happen if the U.S. is able to achieve a more favorable deal.
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