Monday 16 September 2019

Pence arrives in Japan to discuss trade and North Korea

Mr Pence also stressed American commitment to the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.

US Vice President Mike Pence walks with his wife Karen as they exit Air Force Two upon landing at Yokota Air Base (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)
US Vice President Mike Pence walks with his wife Karen as they exit Air Force Two upon landing at Yokota Air Base (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

US Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Tokyo to discuss North Korea and other issues with Japanese officials before heading to two regional summits.

Mr Pence is expected to also discuss China’s growing regional influence and bilateral trade with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when they meet on Tuesday, officials said.

During a stopover in Alaska, Mr Pence told reporters that he planned to “talk about our important alliance, our economic relationship, current negotiations for a free trade agreement of course, and we’ll be focusing on our ongoing commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”, Japan’s NHK public television reported.

Mr Pence said in a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post that America will soon begin negotiations for “a historic trade agreement with Japan”.

The two countries agreed in September to start negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement. Talks are expected to begin early next year.

President Donald Trump’s administration has reached a trade pact with South Korea and another with Mexico and Canada.

Mr Pence said in the article that the new trade deals “will put American jobs and American workers first”.

Mr Pence also stressed American commitment to the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.

The Vice President is to leave on Tuesday to attend a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore and an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea on behalf of President Trump.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Mr Pence’s visit ahead of the regional meetings is a “perfect chance to reaffirm cooperation between Japan and the United States regarding our policies on North Korea and various other issues of mutual interest”.

He said Mr Pence and Mr Abe will discuss ways to expand trade and investment between the two sides.

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