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Japan PM confident in Trump’s diplomacy debut

Update: November, 18/2016 - 15:50
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (right) addresses members of the media about his meeting with US President-Elect Donald Trump at The InterContinental Barclay Hotel in New York, New York, USA, 17 November 2016. Abe met Trump at Trump Tower in New York, the first of Trump’s face-to-face meeting with a world leader following his presidential election win. — EPA/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

NEW YORK - Japan’s prime minister voiced confidence on Thursday about Donald Trump as he became the first foreign leader to meet the US president-elect, who was narrowing in on cabinet choices.

Trump, who has been receiving a flurry Republican operatives at his Manhattan skyscraper since his shock victory last week, appeared to be selecting staunch backers but also considering former rivals for top jobs.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met for 90 minutes with the billionaire at Trump Tower to sound him out after a campaign that alarmed many US allies.

"As an outcome of today’s discussions, I am convinced Mr Trump is a leader in whom I can have great confidence," Abe told reporters, describing a "very warm atmosphere".

Japan is one of Washington’s closest allies but Trump alarmed Tokyo policymakers during the campaign by musing about pulling the thousands of US troops from the region and suggesting that officially pacifist Japan may need nuclear weapons.

Trump also vowed during the election to tear up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed vast trade pact backed by outgoing President Barack Obama and which Abe had made a top priority.

Obama, who has refrained from overt criticism of his successor since the election, was wrapping his final visit to Europe in Berlin -- where some commentators saw him as passing the torch as the world’s champion of liberal democracy to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Trump also met on Thursday with Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama and hinted that he would offer a prime position to the Republican, one of the earliest supporters of Trump’s once longshot campaign who shares the 70-year-old billionaire’s antipathy to immigration.

The tycoon in a statement said he was "unbelievably impressed" with Sessions but had not yet made decisions on his cabinet.

MSNBC reported that Trump may also be considering one of his harshest Republican critics, Mitt Romney, as secretary of state. Trump was apparently set to meet with the former Massachusetts governor over the weekend.

"I think Mr Romney would be quite capable of doing a number of things," Sessions told reporters after his talks with Trump.

Earlier reports said Trump may give the job of top diplomat to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, an Indian American woman who would inject rare diversity into his team. Haley headed into Trump Tower on Thursday but did not speak to reporters.

Another name floated for the State Department has been former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a combative longtime backer of Trump, who would likely face tough Senate scrutiny over his business dealings.

Officials at the State Department and the Pentagon said on Thursday that Trump’s team had reached out on the transition, easing concerns of critics who note Trump’s lack of governing experience.

Trump also met 93-year-old Henry Kissinger, the apostle of realpolitik who guided foreign policy for presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and with Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

"Israel has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel," Dermer said. — AFP

 

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