Trump, Japanese prime minister to meet at Mar-a-Lago ahead of North Korea summit

PHOTO: President Donald Trump shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before a summit meeting at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Nov. 6, 2017.PlayKazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images
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President Donald Trump will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida later this month for a summit meeting, the White House announced Monday.

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The visit comes as President Trump prepares for an eventual face-to-face meeting with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un and amid concerns on the part of Japan of being sidelined in the fast-developing diplomacy with Pyongyang. While the date for that meeting has not been finalized, the White House had previously said it would occur before the end of May.

The Trump-Abe summit is set to take place on April 17-18 and will be the third such meeting between the two leaders. It is Abe’s second visit to Trump’s Florida estate.

According to the White House, the president’s “planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un” and “the international campaign to maintain maximum” pressure on the hermit nation in advance of that summit will be a top agenda item when the two leaders meet.

The last time Trump and Abe met at Mar-a-Lago early in the president’s term last year, North Korea tested a ballistic missile during the summit.

The president and prime minister will also discuss the bilateral trade relationship between the two countries, the White House said.

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

The discussions come a time when Trump is seeking to change the U.S. trading relationships across the globe, claiming that Japan among other countries has long taken advantage of the United States.

“I'll talk to Prime Minister Abe of Japan and others – great guy, friend of mine – and there will be a little smile on their face. And the smile is, ‘I can't believe we've been able to take advantage of the United States for so long’ So those days are over,” Trump said last month as he imposed tariffs on China.

Though the White House made no mention of whether the two leaders plan to hit the golf course together when they meet this month, the two have made it somewhat of a tradition to golf together during their two previous meetings.

The two first bonded over Abe's gift of a $3000 golden golf club in honor of Trump’s election. And when Trump first had Abe to his Mar-a-Lago club last February, South African pro golfer Ernie Els joined a round of golf. And after golfing together for a second time when Trump visited Japan during his Asia tour last year, Abe recalled how his grandfather, a former premier of Japan began the tradition of "golf diplomacy" with President Dwight D. Eisenhower began the tradition of U.S.-Japan golf diplomacy 60 years prior.

“When you play golf not just once but two times, the person must be your favorite guy,” Abe said as he toasted Trump during a state banquet in Japan.