- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2017

President Trump said Friday the U.S. is committed to Japan’s security and “all areas” under its control, in a clear warning to China’s expansionism in the Pacific region.

“The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Pacific region,” Mr. Trump said at a joint news conference at the White House with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The president said he wants both nations to “invest heavily” in security measures in the region, to address North Korea’s nuclear belligerence and China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

“We will work together to promote our shared interests, of which we have many, in the region, including freedom from navigation and of navigation and defending against the North Korean missile and nuclear threat, both of which I consider a very, very high priority,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Abe said the Japanese “strongly demand North Korea to abandon nuclear and ballistic missile program and not to make any more [provocations.]”

China and Japan also have been at odds over the disputed Senkaku Islands, which Japan administers.

Mr. Trump noted that he had a “very warm” phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday night, their first conversation since his inauguration.

“We are in the process of getting along very well,” the president said.

Mr. Trump also said he wants to pursue a trade relationship with Japan that is “free, fair and reciprocal.”

Mr. Trump formally killed a free-trade deal with 12 Pacific-rim nations that was begun under the Obama administration.

The Japanese leader became the second foreign head of government to meet with the president, after British Prime Minister Theresa May, underscoring the importance that the Trump administration is placing on relations with Japan. Mr. Trump greeted Mr. Abe warmly as he emerged from his limousine at the White House, hugging him twice.

“We have a very, very good vibe, good chemistry,” Mr. Trump said.

After lunch at the White House, the two leaders were to fly to Mr. Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, for a weekend of golf and diplomacy with their wives.

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