White House: Trump Is Paying For Japanese PM’s Trip To Mar-a-Lago

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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President Donald Trump will personally pay for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to visit his private residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida this weekend, the White House says.

Abe and several other Japanese officials will arrive Friday for a meeting at the White House with Trump and members of his team. After the meeting in Washington, D.C., the two heads of state will travel to Florida. There were some early concerns about who would pay for what, but officials are now saying that Trump will personally pay for the prime minister’s trip. “It’s a personal gift — something Trump is doing for the prime minister,” a senior White House official told reporters.

The prime minister will be the first foreign leader to stay at Trump’s resort in Mar-a-Lago since Trump took office.

The two leaders are expected to play golf together, extending the “golf diplomacy” initiated by the Japanese prime minister when he presented Trump with a gold golf club in November.

“This is a testament to the importance the United States places on the bilateral relationship and the strength of our alliance and the deep economic ties between the United States and Japan,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said of Abe and Trump’s impending meeting.

Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral free trade agreement Japan supported. He has also criticized Japan for manipulating its currency, engaging in unfair trade practices, and not paying enough for American security promises; and yet, Trump and Abe have had several very positive interactions.

The prime minister was the first foreign leader Trump met after his election. After their brief meeting at Trump Tower, Abe said that Trump is a “is a leader in whom I can have confidence.”

The two men spoke on the phone shortly after Trump’s inauguration and reaffirmed “the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance.”

During their upcoming meeting, Abe is expected to introduce a plan for increased U.S.-Japanese economic cooperation. The reported plan is expected to generate 700,000 American jobs and facilitate market growth.

The prime minister will also propose new cabinet-level talks on trade, security, and other important bilateral issues, Japanese officials told reporters.

Japan appears determined to demonstrate that it is a reliable partner committed as much to U.S. interests as its own, in an apparent effort to maintain the strong U.S.-Japanese relationship cultivated under the previous administration.

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