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Gist of Abe-Trump joint news conference, April 19

The following is the gist of the joint news conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump:


Opening remarks


Abe: We seek the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korea’s nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction and its ballistic missiles. We reached complete agreement on the policy of demanding concrete actions toward denuclearization. If North Korea will take the right path, this will also open the way to the settlement of issues of the unfortunate past and normalization of diplomatic relations under the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration.


We agreed to launch talks for free, fair, and reciprocal trade. The Japanese side will be led by Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy and Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi. We look forward to productive discussions with USTR Robert Lighthizer.


Trump: We will continue to apply maximum pressure until North Korea denuclearizes. The DPRK can open up a bright future if it abandons its nuclear weapons in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner. I hope that the people abducted by North Korea will be reunited with their families as soon as possible.


We will reduce the trade imbalance and engage in free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade. USTR Lighthizer will lead the U.S. team in negotiations (with Motegi). We will deal with various issues based on the friendly relationship between the United States and Japan.




Q: Are you planning to exempt Japan from the import restrictions on steel and aluminum products under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act?


Trump: The U.S. is suffering from a huge trade deficit with Japan. We will be looking at new talks between the two countries. Unless there are favorable conditions that America cannot afford to refuse, we will not return to the TPP. Bilateral trade agreements are better for the United States. We would like to hold one-on-one negotiations with Japan.


Abe: We will continue discussions based on the fact that high-quality Japanese steel and aluminum products are difficult to replace and they contribute significantly to the U.S.’s industry and employment. We are aware that the U.S. is interested in bilateral agreements, but we will engage in discussions from the standpoint that the TPP is the best option for both countries.


Q: Will you make demands at the U.S.-DPRK summit on the abduction of Japanese nationals on par with the elimination of nuclear arms and missiles?


Trump: I will not go into the talks if I don’t think they will be successful. I am always flexible. The abduction issue is important to me because it is important to the Prime Minister. I will make every effort for the repatriation of the abduction victims.


Q: How will Japan conduct dialogue with North Korea?


Abe: We hope that the U.S.-DPRK summit will be a historic meeting that will lead to a solution to the abduction issue. We will make every possible effort to resolve the issues of North Korea’s abductions, nuclear arms, and missiles.

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