Vastavam web: US President Donald Trump on Sunday played down recent missile launches by North Korea as he teed off a state visit to Japan with a round of golf with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Before hitting the course, Trump tweeted that North Korea had tested “some small weapons” that had “disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me”.
This appeared to be a reference to one of his “people”, National Security Advisor John Bolton, who had said the previous day there was “no doubt” the launches had contravened UN Security Council resolutions. But Trump said: “I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me.”
At their summit, Trump and Abe are likely to touch on tensions with North Korea, which have mounted after a summit in February in Hanoi collapsed without an agreement, as well as trade as Tokyo and Washington attempt to thrash out a deal.
On trade, Trump tweeted that “great progress” was being made in the negotiations but “much will wait” until after Japanese upper house elections expected in July — with rumours rife Abe might also call a snap general election at the same time.
The serious diplomacy starts on Monday, when Trump will be the first leader to meet Japan’s new emperor, Naruhito, who has been on the Chrysanthemum Throne for less than a month following his father’s historic abdication. Aerial footage on Japanese television showed the pair practising and teeing off, as well as putting on the manicured greens, accompanied by former professional golfer Isao Aoki.
As Trump’s Marine One helicopter thundered in, shattering the serenity of the course, a casual-looking Abe was there to greet him, sporting white trousers and a blue top. Trump was dressed in a red sweater and black trousers with a red USA cap.
Abe later tweeted a selfie of the two grinning into the camera, as the pair relaxed before the formal element of Trump’s four-day trip begins. After the golf, the two leaders were set to take in the final day of the sumo “basho” or tournament in Tokyo. Trump will present Japanese grappler Asanoyama with the “President’s Cup” — weighing 60-70 pounds (27-32 kilograms) and measuring 54 inches (1.4 metres).