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The Latest: Trump prefers bilateral trade deal with Japan

April 18, 2018 GMT
President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands during a news conference at Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club, Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in Palm Beach, Fla.. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands during a news conference at Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club, Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in Palm Beach, Fla.. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands during a news conference at Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club, Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in Palm Beach, Fla.. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (all times local):

7:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he would prefer a bilateral trade deal with Japan instead of rejoining an 11-nation Pacific Rim trade pact.

But Trump says if he’s offered “a deal we can’t refuse,” he would be willing to re-enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump said Wednesday during a joint news conference in Florida with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that if he could reach a new trade deal with Japan he would discuss removing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

But he says the U.S. is still dealing with a massive trade deficit with Japan.

Abe says Japan’s position is that the TPP is best for the nations involved, but the U.S. has said it wants a bilateral trade deal.

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6:45 p.m.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his country’s steel and aluminum supplies “would not exert any negative influence” on the security of the United States.

Abe says in a joint news conference with President Donald Trump that the quality of Japan’s steel and aluminum products is high and would be difficult to replace.

Japan has pushed for the U.S. to exempt the country from recently imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Trump says at the end of two days of meeting with Abe at his Florida estate that the tariffs have gotten the U.S. “to the bargaining table with many nations” and in many cases foreign countries are paying the tariffs to the U.S.

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6:40 p.m.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says there should be “no reward” given to North Korea just because the reclusive country is responding to dialogue over its development of nuclear weapons.

Abe said Wednesday during a joint news conference with President Donald Trump in Florida that “maximum pressure should be maintained.”

Turning to trade, Abe says the two leaders have agreed to start talks for “free, fair and reciprocal trade deals.” He says the two leaders discussed the economy candidly.

Abe and Trump are wrapping up two days of meetings at the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

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6:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he has agreed to intensify discussions with Japan on trade and investment issues.

And he says he’s asking the U.S. Trade Representative to take the lead.

Trump said Wednesday during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he’s pushing to reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries and remove barriers to U.S. exports.

He says, “We’re committed to pursuing a bilateral trading relationship that benefits both of our great countries.”

Japanese officials had hoped Abe would be able to convince Trump to exempt Japan from recently announced steel and aluminum tariffs. Japan would also like the U.S. to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

But Trump prefers bilateral trade agreements to multicountry deals.

Still, Trump says it’s been an “extremely productive” two days.

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6:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is pledging to help free Japanese citizens abducted and held captive by North Korea.

Trump said Wednesday that he made “a promise” to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to help return the captives believed held by the regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un.

Trump, standing with Abe at a summit in Florida, says he knows that the abductees were “one of the truly most important things on Shinzo’s mind.”

The president says he wants “to see these families reunited as soon as possible.”

Pyongyang has acknowledged abducting 13 Japanese, while Tokyo maintains North Korea abducted at least 17 in the 1970s and 1980s to train agents in Japanese language and culture to spy on South Korea.

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3:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s seeking “free, fair and reciprocal” trade in his discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump said Wednesday during their second day of meetings at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida that Japan is ordering large numbers of airplanes from U.S. companies that will “help with the process of equalization” of trade.

The president says he’s seeking to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Japan and hopes the two countries can move toward “reciprocal” trade.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump and Abe made time for a round of golf.

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8:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump and Japan’s Shinzo Abe are making time for a round of golf during their Mar-a-Lago summit.

The leaders arrived at Trump International Golf Club, a Trump-owned course, in West Palm Beach early Wednesday morning.

Trump and Abe are both avid golfers and played last year at another Trump course, in Jupiter, Florida.

They also partook in a round of “golf diplomacy” at the Kasumi Country Club when Trump visited Japan last year.

During that round, Abe at one point fell backward into a bunker. He quickly recovered and Trump didn’t appear to see the fall.

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12:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is seeking to reassure Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of their close alliance ahead of Trump’s planned talks with North Korea.

The two-day Trump-Abe summit is playing out amid growing tensions over trade and North Korea.

Officials signal Trump is open to considering exempting Japan from new steel and aluminum tariffs that Abe opposes.

Trump also gave Abe a win on Tuesday, pledging to raise the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, a top Japanese priority, in his meeting with Kim.

But Trump later suggested there was one area where he and Abe would have to agree to disagree: the Trans-Pacific trade partnership, which Trump pulled the U.S. out of days after his inauguration, but has recently said he might be open to re-joining.